Here comes the main Mane

Sadio Mane could be available for selection when Senegal open their AFCON campaign against Ghana on Monday despite the view of his club Southampton who initially said the calf injury he sustained on New Year's Day would rule him out for several weeks.

The 22-year-old midfielder picked up the injury during Southampton's Premier League victory over Arsenal but Senegal coach Alain Giresse insisted on calling him up to the team's Nations Cup squad despite Southampton's assertion of the English club that he would not be able to play.

Senegalese reports said he trained normally on Friday and that he did not feel any pain,

"The only question now is to know which match he will be able to play. Will it be the first, second or third?" Senegalese website quoted Giresse as saying following a training session on Saturday

"I say that if he will not be able to play the first match, it will be the second if not the third. Hopefully it will be the second. We'll see the progress he will make."

Despite his glut of fine strikers, Giresse has gone to great lengths to have the goalscoring winger in his final squad because he offers something totally different.

At club level Mane has generally been played as an out and winger so far this season. Senegal use him as part of a front three with a license to roam.

Senegalese Generation Foot co-founder Mady Toure thinks he should be mentioned in the same breath as Barcelona stars Lionel Messi and Neymar.

Toure told the Guardian that whilst it might be Messi and Neymar who are in the limelight currently, he feels Mane should be held in the same esteem as Barcelona's South American duo.

"Today we talk about Messi and Neymar but honestly I don’t think these players are as good as Sadio Mané." he said.

“But I don’t think his development is finished yet. Sadio still has a long way to go before reaching his peak. Now he needs a really good coach to take him to the new level because his possibilities are enormous.”

Mane, who took the record for most expensive Senegalese player from El Hadji Diouf when Southampton paid £11.8million for his services last summer, also had interest from some of the top European club's before the asking price put them off.

“There were lots of clubs interested but Red Bull were asking for €15m and that created a small problem,” Toure confirmed.

“Sadio refused to play because he wanted to leave and that’s when Southampton came in."

His 45 goals and 32 assists for Red Bull Salzburg in 87 matches led to Southampton identifying the winger as a key transfer target for new boss Ronald Koeman, especially with Jay Rodriguez still out injured.

But Toure also touts the man he considers a son for the very top of the game and wouldn't be surprised if he didn't spend too long on the South coast before moving on to bigger and better things.

“...I’m sure he will not spend too long at Southampton because there are lots of clubs in Europe who would like to buy him. When Sadio went to Metz, I said he wouldn’t spend very long with them and it was the same when he went to Red Bull. He has the talent to play in the Champions League.” he proclaimed.

Senegal face Ghana in their opening Group C clash in Mongomo on Monday.

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