The departure of Willy Boly and Romain Saiss to go to the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) looms over Wolves’ season.

Boly will represent the Ivory Coast, while Saiss will play for Morocco, fitness permitting.

The two players could face each other in the quarter-finals, but from a Wolves perspective, it is their absence which is the concern.

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Saiss has been an ever-present in Bruno Lage’s backline so far this season.

saiss wolves AFCON
(Jack Thomas – WWFC/Wolves via Getty Images)

Boly has not started a league game yet under Lage but would likely be the first in line if there were any changes to the backline.

In the absence of both, and the injured Yerson Mosquera, Leander Dendoncker is the most likely deputy.

But the Belgian is one of only three senior central midfield options Wolves have, so that would stretch the squad thin regardless.

And it is not exactly clear as of yet when the players will leave to link up with their countries.

boly wolves afcon
(Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

When are Saiss and Boly going to AFCON?

A report by the Athletic says that FIFA rules state players must be released for AFCON on December 27, the Monday in the week before the tournament starts.


Wolves are apparently pushing for Saiss and Boly to depart for the tournament after the game at Manchester United on January 3.

A final agreement is expected after the current round of international fixtures and a potential middle ground is players going after the December 28 round of Premier League matches.

If that’s the compromise, Saiss and Boly will miss that game against United, as well as those against Southampton and Brentford and Wolves’ FA Cup third-round tie.

They should be back for a fourth-round game on February 5 unless either them reach the final – on February 6 – or third place play-off. Wolves host Arsenal on February 8.

The pair could miss five Premier League matches and two FA Cup rounds. Ideally, they would available against United and out of the tournament before the semi-finals.

That would mean missing just two league games Even making the semi-finals would only mean a three-game absence.

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