Manchester United could be without goalkeeper Andre Onana for as many as nine games after Cameroon qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations.
The 27-year-old has quickly become a fan favourite at Old Trafford following his £47million arrival from Inter Milan in July.
He has started in the opening four Premier League games, but in a blow to the Red Devils, he will now miss a month of action in 2024.
After making a U-turn on his international career having initially retired after the 2022 World Cup, Onana returned to Cameroon duty on Tuesday.
He started in the 3-0 win over Burundi which secured Cameroon’s entry into AFCON, which will take place in Ivory Coast between January 13 and February 11.
In that period, Onana may be absent for a total of four Premier League games.
United face Tottenham at home, Wolves at Molineux, West Ham at the Theatre of Dreams and Aston Villa away.
Meanwhile he could also miss United’s FA Cup third round tie which is pencilled in to take place on the weekend of January 6-7 if Cameroon call Onana up early for a pre-tournament camp.
Should United get through to the fourth round, that would be held on January 27 or 28.
And if United progress into the Carabao Cup semi-final, Onana may miss the two-legged tie, with the games to go ahead on the weeks commencing January 8 and January 22.
Erik ten Hag may also be without Onana in the Champions League should United progress out of their group containing Bayern Munich, Galatasaray and Copenhagen.
Depending on the draw, United’s first leg of a potential last-16 clash could take place 48 hours following the final of AFCON.
In total, Onana – as well as on-loan Morocco star Sofyan Amrbat – could miss nine games in all competitions in what would be a worst-case scenario for United.
Though there is always the chance that the two nations will not advance into the final, with the duo to be available if their nation is eliminated early.
In Onana’s absence, Ten Hag is likely to turn to Turkish shot-stopper Altay Bayindir, who joined on deadline day from Fenerbahce for £4.3m.
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