Mali coach Mohammed Magassouba says a problem with Yves Bissouma's paperwork led to the Brighton midfielder being left out of the squad for their Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Gabon.
Bissouma was a notable absentee for the key match on 17 November.
But Magassouba said the player cannot travel without his UK residence permit, which is missing.
"At the airport, Yves lost his residence card," Magassouba told a news conference in Bamako.
"When you lose such a document, you may need to bring together lawyers to find another one because you have to recognise that Europe is different from here.
"Yves is in this process for now. Nevertheless, he is ready to join the team itself as a substitute player. He swore to me [with his] hand on the heart."
Lens left back Massadio Haïdara, who was born in France and played at youth levels, has pulled out of the squad due to injury.
"I just had the Lens doctor on the phone. He informs me of the unavailability of Massadio Haïdara" said Magassouba.
Haïdara's club-mate, Cheick Doucouré, 18, is in line to make his debut.
At youth level, Doucouré was in the squad when Mali lost 2-0 to Brazil in the third-place play-off match at the 2017 Fifa under-17 World Cup in India.
However there is still no place for captain Yacouba Sylla, who has not played for Belgium's KV Mechelen since August and striker Bakary Sako, who recently moved to West Bromwich Albion.
Mali top the pool with eight points, one more than Gabon.
Burundi are third and they will host pointless South Sudan, who are already out of contention to reach the 2019 Nations Cup in Cameroon.
Goalkeepers: Mamadou Samassa (Troyes, France), Djigui Diarra (Stade Malien), Adama Keita (Djoliba, Mali)
Defenders: Hamari Traoré (Stade Rennes, France), Falaye Sacko (Victoria de Guimarães, Portugal), Mamadou Fofana (Metz, France), Salif Coulibaly (Al Ahly, Egypt), Bakaye Dibassy (Amiens, France), Cheick Keita (Eupen, Belgium)
Midfielders: Amadou Haidara and Diadié Samassekou (Red Bull Salzburg, Austria); Souleymane Diarra and Cheick Oumar Doucouré (Lens, France); Lassana Coulibaly (Rangers, Scotland)
Forwards: Moussa Doumbia (Stade Reims, France), Moussa Marega (Porto, Portugal), Abdoulay Diaby (Sporting Lisbon, Portugal), Adama Traoré (Metz, France), Hadi Sacko (Las Palmas, Spain), Kalifa Coulibaly (FC Nantes, France), Moussa Djenepo (Standard Liège, Belgium), Adama Niane (Sporting Charleroi, Belgium)