Naby Keita has been omitted from Guinea’s final squad for the October break, with new manager Didier Six taking a sensible approach to his fitness.
Keita has made just one start for Liverpool so far this season, with a hip injury keeping him out for six weeks and ruling him out of seven games.
The 24-year-old is slowly working his way back to full fitness, with Jurgen Klopp resting him for the 1-0 win at Sheffield United in order to train separately at Melwood.
But his comeback is building momentum, and the hope will be that Keita can hit top form after a stop-start spell with the Reds since his £52.75 million move from RB Leipzig in 2018.
Initially named in Six’s first squad since taking over as Guinea manager, the No. 8 has now been left out for the upcoming friendlies against Comoros in France (Oct 12) and Chile in Spain (Oct 15).
“I would like Naby Keita to rest for these two matches,” Six told reporters on Friday.
“The two friendly matches are tough, especially against Chile, so I decided to change my selection.
“In November we will have qualifiers for the Africa Cup of Nations, and until then I would like Keita to recover and be at 100 percent of his level.
“However, I will ask him to come to some meetings in Paris, which is the same as in the case of captain Ibrahima Traore, who is injured.”
This is a welcome change for Keita, whose injury problems were exacerbated by Six’s predecessor, Paul Put, rushing him back from a long-term adductor problem for the AFCON last summer.
Keita played twice at the tournament in Egypt, and predictably was forced off after 71 minutes in a 1-0 loss to Nigeria, which was his first start for club or country in just under two months.
Liverpool will no doubt welcome the change in manager within the Guinea setup, as their ideals now seemingly align with those of Keita’s national team.
The midfielder has top-level potential, as he proved during his time with Leipzig, but he is yet to show it consistently for Liverpool, with a fragility hampering his progress.
He is not the only Reds player to be rested for the October break, as Egypt took the same approach with Mohamed Salah ahead of their friendly against Botswana.