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Naby Keita could return to Liverpool soon after playing in his “last game” at AFCON

Naby Keita might have played his last match at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations after being ruled out for Guinea’s clash with Gambia.

Fortunately for Liverpool and the midfield, his absence is nothing to do with injury however, with the Guinea captain suspended for their round of 16 match on Monday.

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The 26-year-old has enjoyed an impressive tournament so far, putting in man of the match performances in victory over Malawi and draw with Senegal, before scoring a sensational long-range effort against Zimbabwe.

However, the midfielder picked up bookings against Senegal and Zimbabwe so will now serve a one-game suspension.

His first caution came for a challenge on Reds team-mate Sadio Mane, while his second booking came in the final minutes against Zimbabwe for trying to lift up goalkeeper Talbert Shumba from the turf amid protests he was time-wasting.

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“He’s often been injured for the national team, and it’s a loss,” he said. “But we just have to do without him.

“We’ll play the last 16 for him. He’s given a lot since the first match, and he’s now at an age where he should be among the best players at the AFCON.

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“He wants to prove it, and he can show that… if we get to the quarter-finals. He had two superb games, scored a goal, and is currently at a great physical level.

“He’s our best player, so we’ve got to do it for him, but it’s sad news. We have a squad of players, and this is what it’s for.”

Should Guinea beat Gambia without Keita, he will return for their quarter-final clash with Cameroon or Comoros on January 29.

If Guinea then progressed to the semi-finals, Liverpool would be without the midfielder’s services for their FA Cup fourth round meeting with Cardiff City on February 6, with both the Africa Cup of Nations final and third-place play-off taking place on the same date as the Reds’ clash with the Bluebirds.

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