Russia here Wear come; Sunderland award-winner has been officially pre-selected for World Cup

He hasn't been seen on Wearside for nigh on nine months, but Wahbi Khazri has been named in Tunisia's provisional 29-man squad for the World Cup. 

He probably won't be a Sunderland player by the time he takes to the pitch in Russia, but the Black Cats now officially own one individual 'selected' by their nation for the 2018 World Cup. 

Midfielder Wahbi Khazri has been named in Tunisia's provisional 29-man squad preparing for the biggest stage in global football. 

The 27-year-old playmaker has been on loan at Stade Rennais this season and has proven to be a success on his return to French football. 

To mark his exploits, Khazri landed second spot today in the Marc-Vivien FoĆ© 2018 prize, awarded for the best African player in Ligue 1. Cameroon striker Karl Toko-Ekambi, who plays for Angers SCO, pipped the Sunderland man to the gong. 

Khazri has scored nine goals and contributed a couple of assists to help his side climb to fifth in Ligue 1 with a single game of the season remaining. Rennes are guaranteed a top six finish to mark a successful campaign and the Brittany outfit will compete in the Europa League next term.

Sunderland-owned Khazri may have been in boiling hot form for most of the season but he hasn't scored since March and has been out injured for the last couple of weeks, which may be good news for England. 

The man signed for Sunderland by Sam Allardyce from Bordeaux in 2016 is likely to face Gareth Southgate's World Cup hopefuls in their opening fixture of the group stage. 

The Black Cats may have at least two other players at Russia 2018 - if they haven't departed once the transfer window opens next week. Papy Djilobodji is on the brink of a call up to the Senegal squad and Bryan Oviedo will be part of the Costa Rican contingent. 

With none of the trio mentioned above ever likely to don a red-and-white shirt in anger again, the best Sunderland can make of their World Cup-bound men is that an imminent stint on football's biggest stage will boost their resale value somewhat. 

As for Khazri, he probably could have single-handedly kept Sunderland in the Championship in 2017/8. 

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