Which fantasy football stars will travel to AFCON 2017, and who should you replace them with?

With 23 Premier League footballers off to Gabon to compete in the Africa Cup of Nations this month, the depth of Premier League squads is about to be tested.

But what of the fantasy version of the beautiful game? There aren't many top players heading to AFCON 2017, but the tournament does pose a few selection issues for FPL managers.

Here's how to get by.

AFCON 2017: Islam Slimani

Leicester City and Algeria

Leicester City's Islam Slimani - (Mike Egerton/PA)
(Mike Egerton/PA)

Islam Slimani is only selected by 0.9% of managers, but that still amounts to tens of thousands who have selected the Algerian forward.

Slimani's returns have been modest but respectable in his debut season, scoring five goals and contributing three assists in the league as Leicester attempt to avoid relegation.

With Jamie Vardy misfiring however, Slimani is a great option to have in the squad. It's a shame he could be away until early February then.

IN: Jermain Defoe


Sunderland's Jermain Defoe scores from the penalty spot - (Owen Humphreys/PA)
(Owen Humphreys/PA)

Fear not though - if you have Slimani in your team, this is a great chance to swap him for the better, and cheaper, Jermain Defoe.

At £7.7m, what an option the Englishman is - he has 11 goals already in the Premier League, and despite playing for relegation-strugglers Sunderland, has scored against Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City so far this season.

Furthermore, Sunderland face Stoke, West Brom and Crystal Palace in their next four games - a chance for more goals, surely.

AFCON 2017: Riyad Mahrez

Leicester City and Algeria

Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri and Riyad Mahrez - (Mike Egerton/PA)
(Mike Egerton/PA)

Riyad Mahrez also travels to Gabon with Algeria, and despite the fact his form hasn't come close to last season, he remains selected by 9% of managers having notched three goals and three assists.

That's not a great return for a £9m player - but AFCON 2017 is a great chance to find a replacement.

IN: Michail Antonio

West Ham

West Ham midfielder Michail Antonio - (Peter Byrne/PA)
(Peter Byrne/PA)

You could do a lot worse than Michail Antonio, the West Ham wide man who has quietly become one of West Ham's best footballers.

Antonio has been used as a full back but appears to take his place higher up the pitch these days, and it shows, with eight Premier League goals (lots of them headers) and two assists to his name.

Antonio is selected by more than 10% of managers, and it's not difficult to see why: at just £6.8m you'll make a huge saving on Mahrez.

AFCON 2017: Wilfried Zaha

Crystal Palace and Ivory Coast

Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha - (Adam Davy/PA)
(Adam Davy/PA)

Who saw the emergence of Wilfried Zaha coming, eh? Well, clearly not the FA or they might have had the foresight to get him to play for England instead of the Ivory Coast.

Zaha has demonstrated great application this season, increasing his end product to the point where he has become one of the bargains of the fantasy football world.

With four goals and eight assists at just £5.8m, he'll be a big miss when the Ivory Coast defend their title.

IN: Matt Phillips

West Brom

West Brom midfielder Matt Phillips - (Nick Potts/PA)
(Nick Potts/PA)

Out with one bargain however, and in with another - Matt Phillips is cheaper than Zaha, has more points, and a favourable run of fixtures too.

The West Brom man has scored four goals and earned nine assists this season, helping WBA move up to eighth in the league.

Furthermore, the Baggies play Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Stoke, West Ham, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace in their next seven games.

AFCON 2017: Sadio Mane

Liverpool and Senegal

Liverpool forward Sadio Mane - (Dave Howarth/PA)
(Dave Howarth/PA)

One of the highest scorers in this year's FPL, Liverpool's Sadio Mane is expensive, at £9.3m, but totally worth it after nine goals and six assists in the league for the Reds.

Mane heads to Gabon with Senegal, so the 16.1% of managers with him in their team will need to find a replacement. Fortunately, there are goals everywhere at Anfield...

IN: Adam Lallana


Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana and manager Jurgen Klopp - (Mike Egerton/PA)
(Mike Egerton/PA)

Adam Lallana is your man. The England international is enjoying a fine season under Jurgen Klopp, having scored seven and assisted seven in the league so far.

At just £7.7m he's one of the best players for value in the division too, and with Liverpool top scorers on 48 goals, the Anfield side will surely continue to score in Mane's absence.

(Selection figures, prices and points are correct as of time of publication on January 4, 2017)

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