Tottenham Hotspur's Nabil Bentaleb has admitted to the club's official site that he is 'gutted' to have to leave White Hart Lane to go to the African Cup of Nations.
Bentaleb has established himself as a key figure in Spurs's team, with his performances in the heart of the pitch earning him a number of plaudits.
However, the central-midfielder is set to miss over a month's worth of action with the Lilywhites because of his call up to the Algerian national team and he admits that it has been hard to leave Spurs at such a crucial stage of the season.
“Of course I was gutted to leave Tottenham for a while, but my country is counting on me,” Bentaleb said.
“I have to assume my duties and play for my country and that’s what I’m doing."
Spurs have already felt the effects of losing Bentaleb to international duty, with his absence one of the reasons they lost to Crystal Palace this weekend.
Tottenham have won 70% of Premier League matches that Bentaleb has started in this campaign, but they have been victorious in fewer than 30% of those where he has been left on the substitutes' bench.
It is remarkable that he is already so important to the side, given his tender years, and Spurs will have to step-up to cover for absence.
Bentaleb will be back at some point in February, but unless Spurs can continue to accumulate points without the all-action midfielder their top-four push could be over before he even gets back representing his country.