Graham Potter says Yves Bissouma deserves the chance to play in a ‘fantastic’ tournament like the Africa Cup of Nations.
The Albion midfielder has been named in Mali’s squad after a three-year absence for the competition which takes place in Cameroon in January and February.
Potter knows about the passion for AFCON from his time in Ghana when he was technical director for the Ghanian women’s team during the 2007 World Cup.
“If selected then he’s due to go and he goes with our blessing and I hope he does well,” said Potter.
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“We will miss him. He was exceptional at Chelsea as part of a really good team performance, his ball recovery and how he ran away from some of the best midfielders in the world. Playing for your country is a fantastic thing and we support our players who want to do that.
“When I worked in Ghana I saw how prestigious a tournament it is and it’s a competition I will be really interested in.”
In the group stages Mali play Tunisia on 12 January, Gambia four days later and Mauritania on 20 January. The knockouts start on 24 January with the final scheduled for 6 February.
Potter is confident Albion can adapt without Bissouma. “All the players are important, it’s not our model to rely on any one individual.
“We’ve got results without Lewis Dunk, who is our captain and very important to us. It’s a team game and the most important think is how each individual functions in the team environment.”