Watford forward Emmanuel Dennis will no longer be going to the Africa Cup of Nations with Nigeria, while the Super Eagles have also been forced to drop Napoli striker Victor Osimhen and several others due to a mixture of Covid-19 and injury.
Dennis has only played three times for Nigeria since 2019, totalling 25 minutes of senior international football, but he was recalled for this AFCON tournament off the back of an impressive first half of the season for Watford in the Premier League.
The former Club Brugge player has established himself as one of the signings of the season thanks to eight goals and five assists in only 16 Premier League appearances to date.
He was included in Nigeria’s 28-man squad for the competition in Cameroon, although Watford contested it, claiming that the deadline had been missed.
No official reason has yet been given for Dennis withdrawing from the Nigeria squad and being ‘excused’ from international duty, but Hornets boss Claudio Ranieri alluded to a possible administrative failing from the Nigeria Football Federation.
“The email didn’t arrive at the right moment. The national team has a time to send a pre-call. They didn’t respect the days, and I want to see,” Ranieri said after Watford faced West Ham on Tuesday.
Osimhen, who cost Napoli a club record €70m in 2020 and has recently been recovering from a fractured cheekbone, has been confirmed as testing positive for Covid-19.
Rangers centre-back Leon Balogun and Omonia’s Shehu Abdullahi, who were both also named in the original squad, have had to pull out because of injuries.