Unlike Papy Djilobodji and Didier Ndong, Lamine Koné is still technically contracted to Sunderland, currently on loan at Strasbourg.

The 29-year-old made 26 appearances for the now League One side last season, but the relegation from the Championship meant the Ivory Coast international couldn’t stay on Wearside any longer.

The Ligue 1 outfit kindly extended their hand, and while he’s played 111 minutes of football, he’s also now injured.

Missing the last three games, including the midweek 3-2 loss to 10-man Marseille, the Sunderland loanee’s return date is still unknown, and there’s a fear in Ivory Coast that he could miss the two Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Central African Republic next month.

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That would mean he would be out for the next three weeks or so, but within the player’s entourage, there’s a quiet confidence he’ll be back sooner rather than later.

They told Sportmania in Ivory Coast: “He’s been training normally for the past two days and he’ll be back to his best before those games”.

For Sunderland, this will be great news, as they hope he will impress Strasbourg enough they’ll trigger the option to buy in the loan deal come the end of the season.

The last thing they want is for him and his hefty wages to return because he spent most of the campaign injured.