Cheikhou Kouyate has been called up for Senegal’s international friendly matches with Uzbekistan and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the end of March.
The West Ham United midfielder captains his national team and is set to lead the Lions of Teranga into their first FIFA World Cup finals in 16 years in Russia this summer.
The 28-year-old, who has earned 25 caps since making his debut in South Africa in February 2012, will line up against the Uzbeks at an undecided venue in Morocco on Friday 23 March before facing Bosnia and Herzegovina in the French city of Le Havre four days later.
Kouyate is joined in the squad by former West Ham teammate Diafra Sakho, as well as Liverpool's Sadio Mane, Everton midfielder Idrissa Gueye, Stoke City pair Mame Biram Diouf and Pape Alioune Ndiaye, Cardiff City's Armand Traore, Wolverhampton Wanderers' Alfred Ndiaye, Birmingham City midfielder Cheikh Ndoye and Crystal Palace's fit-again Pape Souare.
I’m very proud because 15 million people in Senegal are behind us. I am the captain and my people are behind us, so I need to lead my team
The matches will serve as preparation for Senegal’s second World Cup finals appearance, where they will tackle Poland, Japan and Colombia in the group stage.
On their only previous appearance in 2002, the Lions of Teranga reached the quarter-finals, with future Hammers Papa Bouba Diop and Henri Camara scoring in historic victories over reigning champions France and Sweden.
Speaking to whufc.com in February, Kouyate explained how he is taking the responsibility of leading his country in Russia very seriously.
“I’m very proud because 15 million people in Senegal are behind us. I am the captain and my people are behind us, so I need to lead my team.
“It won’t be easy, though, as this is a World Cup and every game is hard. Every game is a final and we are going there to give our best, because all of Senegal are proud of the team. Everybody in the country loves football.
“This will be my first World Cup, and the same for my teammates, but first I have to think about the end of the Premier League season and saving West Ham, and only then can I start to think about the World Cup.”