Ivory Coast concern over Kone as he misses out on final warm-up match

Lamine Kone troops off injured at Burnley on December 31. Picture by Frank Reid
Lamine Kone troops off injured at Burnley on December 31. Picture by Frank Reid
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Sunderland defender Lamine Kone is facing a fight to be fit for the start of Ivory Coast’s defence of the Africa Cup of Nations.

Kone was not included in the squad which beat Sweden 2-1 at the weekend, having been recovering from the thigh injury he picked up for the Black Cats at Burnley on New Year’s Eve.

And he again missed out against Uganda in their final warm-up match in Abu Dhabi yesterday.

Three second-half goals did the damage for the Ivorians, with Aston Villa striker Jonathan Kodjia making the breakthrough six minutes into the second period. Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha made it 2-0 seven minutes later and full-back Serge Aurier added the final goal in the 72nd minute.

Ivory Coast begin their Africa Cup of Nations group against Togo on Monday before facing DR Congo on January 20 and Morocco (January 24).

The Ivorians have until Sunday to decide whether to stick with Kone or bring in a replacement. If he stays, Kone will be in Gabon until at least January 24, meaning he misses Sunderland’s games against Stoke and West Bromn.

Meanwhile, Sunderland’s Wahbi Khazri will be fit to feature for Tunisia, despite being stretchered off with an ankle problem in Sunday’s defeat to Egypt.

Tunisia meet Senegal in their opener on Sunday.