Nantes manager Antoine Kombouaré has admitted that he is concerned about being without Nigerian forward Moses Simon during the Africa Cup of Nations in January.
After escaping relegation narrowly last season and welcoming no major signing in the summer, many expected Nantes to struggle again this campaign.
But the Yellow Canaries presently sit tenth on the Ligue 1 table after winning three and drawing one of eight matches.
Simon has been crucial to that decent run, with the 26-year-old contributing five assists and one goal to the cause, representing more than 50% of Nantes’ 11 league goals.
Nantes will likely be without the attacker for the best part of January and beyond, should Nigeria make it to the semifinal stage of the Afcon.
The Super Eagles begin their Afcon tournament with a potentially exciting clash against North African giants Egypt on 11 January 2021 at the Roumdé Adjia Stadium in Garoua.
Other Group D games against Sudan and Guinea-Bissau are scheduled as the three-time African champions navigate a tricky group with three former champions.
Nigeria will need all of her best legs to challenge reigning champions Algeria, title hopefuls Senegal, and hosts Cameroon, who are favourites for the Cup.
Simon, Nantes’ player of the month of August, is one of head coach Gernot Rohr’s most dependable performers, and bar any unfortunate injuries, he is sure to make the Super Eagles squad list for the Afcon.
Nantes boss Kombouaré knows his team could struggle without their star man, but he counts on others to step up and perform in Simon’s absence.
“I’ve been thinking about it since the start of the season,” Kombouaré said at a press conference as per Homme Du Match.
“But what I want is for the players who are with us to perform very well so that we win as many matches in order to be in the best possible place before that time.
“But one thing at a time. The risk is always present. He may be less efficient, may get injured… The opponents can also block him more because his game may be more readable, but these are my choices.
“If there is something, we will adapt with players who I hope will be as efficient as him.”
Besides Manchester United star Paul Pogba and Karim Benzema, no player has notched more assists in Europe’s top five leagues than Simon.