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Keita ‘not 100 per cent’ but ready to play for Guinea in Africa Cup of Nations

Naby Keita admitted he is “not 100 per cent” but reassured his Guinea team-mates he expects to be ready for their Africa Cup of Nations opener against Madagascar on June 22.

The Liverpool midfielder has been recovering from an adductor muscle injury since the Reds’ Champions League semi-final first leg against Barcelona in May and was initially ruled out for eight weeks.

Guinea disputed Liverpool’s initial diagnosis and the 24-year-old made a quicker recovery than expected, while national team coach Paul Put indicated Keita will be involved in Sunday’s friendly against Egypt.

Keita joined his national team-mates on Monday and although he is not completely fit, he is confident he can feature in the tournament opener.

Keita told Foot 224: “I’m going to work now. I am not 100 per cent but when I was in Liverpool, I started training with the ball.

“As I’m here now I’m going to train with the team to see.

“To reassure the Guinean fans, the coach and the team-mates, I think I’ll be ready for the first match.”

Before his injury, Keita made 25 Premier League appearances in his first season at Liverpool, scoring two goals while competing for a place with the likes of Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum and Fabinho.

Ex-Kenya coach Put said Liverpool took some persuading to release the former RB Leipzig playmaker, saying: “I put a lot of pressure on Liverpool to [send him] as soon as possible.

“In the end, I said that if Naby does not come now, it will be difficult to put [him on] the list for the Africa Cup of Nations.

“He said he will play against Egypt.”

After their first game of the Africa Cup of Nations against Madagascar, Guinea face Nigeria on June 26 before finishing the group stage with a clash against Burundi.

Put’s team failed to qualify for the last tournament in 2017 but reached the quarter-finals two years prior. Their best finish in the tournament came in 1976, when they finished runners-up.

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