West Ham star Kouyate could make timely return as Senegal crash out of AFCON

Upton Park

Senegal's early exit from the Africa Cup of Nations means Cheikhou Kouyate could feature for West Ham against Liverpool this weekend.

Senegal's Africa Cup of Nations campaign is over already, with a 2-0 defeat to Algeria on Tuesday night sending them crashing out of the competition in the group stage.

In the tournament's 'Group of Death', Senegal beat Ghana but could only draw with South Africa, and their loss to Algeria sent them home early, despite being considered as one of the favourites for the competition.

Manager Alain Giresse is expected to lose his job after a disappointing campaign, but West Ham United are set to be one of the big beneficiaries of Senegal's exit.

Midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate, 25, started two games for Senegal in Equatorial Guinea, and will now be clear to return to Premier League action this weekend.

The summer signing from Anderlecht has impressed for the Hammers so far this season, and his return will be a huge boost to manager Sam Allardyce.

'Big Sam' thought he was losing Kouyate, Cameroon international Alex Song and Senegalese striker Diafra Sakho for around a month, but with the latter two staying at home, West Ham appear to have come through the Africa Cup of Nations unscathed.

Kouyate's return is timely, given the way West Ham struggled in midfield against Bristol City in the FA Cup on Sunday. Kevin Nolan and Mark Noble were ineffectual and failed to impose themselves on the game, whilst even Song had an off day in the middle of the park.

Kouyate's physicality and athleticism will be a welcome sight for Allardyce, as he prepares his side to face Liverpool this weekend.

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