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Dennis to miss AFCON after Watford ‘bare fangs’

Watford striker Emmanuel Dennis will not play in the Africa Cup of Nations after the Nigerian Football Federation said his club are “baring fangs”.

Nigeria have been hit by a double blow to their attack after Dennis and Napoli top goalscorer Victor Osimhen both dropped out of their squad for the tournament in Cameroon.

Dennis is not being released by Watford because the Nigerian federation did not request him for the tournament in time, with the federation releasing a statement on Friday.

“In-form rapid raider Emmanuel Dennis, whose English Premiership club is baring fangs, has been excused to provide room for Czech Republic -based forward Peter Olayinka,” Nigeria’s official account said on Instagram.

Watford manager Claudio Ranieri earlier this week revealed Nigeria missed the deadline to inform Watford of their intention to select him, giving the club the power to decide whether to release the 24-year-old striker for international duty.

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Highlights of Watford’s clash with West Ham

While the struggling Premier League club have said nothing since, Dennis was removed from a revised squad list for the finals in Cameroon.

Osimhen is also out after contracting COVID-19. He suffered facial fractures playing for Napoli in November in a clash of heads with Inter Milan’s Milan Skriniar and required titanium plates and screws fixed to his cheekbone and eye socket.

His club said he would be out for three months but the forward returned to training just before Christmas, wearing a protective mask, and travelled to Nigeria last week.

But he has now contracted coronavirus for a second time and gone into isolation in Nigeria, cancelling a trip back to Italy for a further check-up on his cheekbone.

The 23-year-old is asymptomatic, according to a statement by his club Napoli.

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Highlights of Watford’s clash with West Ham

“Consequently, the local authorities have ordered that Osimhen self-isolate and the check-up will be rescheduled after he has tested negative and his period of isolation ends,” said the statement.

Nigeria have called up Peter Olayinka from Czech club Slavia Prague and Olympiakos winger Henry Onyekuru to replace the two forwards while Semi Ajayi from Championship club West Bromwich Albion and Tyrone Ebuehi, who pays at Venezia in Serie A, come in as defenders.

They play their first Group D game against Egypt in Garoua on January 11.

AFCON: Which Premier League and Scottish Premiership players could miss games?

Sixteen Premier League clubs and Rangers are set to be impacted by the Africa Cup of Nations in January and February. Who are they? And which players could be absent?

The Africa Cup of Nations will run from January 9 to February 6, with 40 Premier League players potentially being called up for duty for the tournament in Cameroon.

Those called up to AFCON could miss at least one Premier League round (weekend of January 15/16), the FA Cup third round (weekend of January 8) and the Carabao Cup semi-finals (w/c January 3 and January 10) in the best-case scenario.