Newcastle manager Alan Pardew was today preparing for an unexpected bonus with strikers Demba Ba and Papiss Demba Cisse due to return weeks ahead of schedule.
Pardew sent the pair off on African Nations Cup duty earlier this month knowing they could be away until the middle of next month if Senegal went all the way in the competition.
However, defeats by Zambia and co-hosts Equatorial Guinea in their opening Group A games mean they cannot now qualify for the knockout stages of the competition, and Sunday's clash with Libya will end their involvement.
Pardew is yet to speak to 15-goal leading scorer Ba and Cisse, the man he signed from Freiburg before the tournament got under way, but has not given up hope of having them both available for Wednesday's Barclays Premier League clash with Blackburn.
He said: "We have to understand the federation of Senegal's wishes, and also our own.
"Lee Charnley, our secretary here, will call them and have a conversation as to when and where we can get them back.
"Blackburn on Wednesday? That's probably tight, but we might try to get them back for that.
"I am guessing they are not too pleased about how it's gone, so that's something we will have to focus on when they return.
"On the other hand, obviously they are coming back early, so that part of it, I am pleased about.
"They are two great players and you want your best players in and around your team."
Midfielder Cheick Tiote remains very much involved in the tournament with Ivory Coast as the winter transfer window, during which he has been repeatedly linked with a move away from Tyneside, draws to a close.
Pardew is determined to hang on to Tiote, goalkeeper Tim Krul and Ba, who have all found themselves the subject of speculation in recent weeks, although in the wake of Andy Carroll's £35million deadline-day departure for Liverpool 12 months ago, he admits he will not be able to rest until the Tuesday comes and goes.
He said: "Obviously, I was scarred last year, so I am on my guard."
Newcastle's swoop for Cisse came as something of a surprise with the manager having indicated he would not be signing a striker this month.
However, his pursuit of a central defender to bolster resources stretched badly by Steven Taylor's season-ending Achilles injury is ongoing.
Pardew refused to comment on reports that the club has made two rejected bids for Watford's Adrian Mariappa - much to the annoyance of Hornets boss Sean Dyche - but asked if he remains in the market, he said: "Yes.
"We are a little bit short of cover at centre-half and we need to address that."
Newcastle will also attempt to address the contractual situations of a number of players - principally skipper Fabricio Coloccini and full-back Danny Simpson - once the window has closed.
Pardew said: "We haven't broken down with anybody. We are just waiting for the window to shut, really, before we focus on the guys whose contracts we need to really analyse.
"There are a couple out of contract and a couple the year after, so we need to keep an eye on that."
In the meantime, Pardew and his players, who spent the early part of this week in Tenerife, will concentrate on the task of booking their place in the FA Cup fifth round by way of a difficult fourth-round trip to npower Championship side Brighton.
Pardew, of course, missed out on winning the cup as both a Crystal Palace player and West Ham manager at the final hurdle and is relishing another crack at the competition.
He said: "The cup competitions, I personally really look forward to. We will be sending a strong side to Brighton and hopefully getting a positive result."