(Reuters) - Watford’s Emmanuel Dennis will not play in the Africa Cup of Nations after Nigeria missed the deadline to call him up and although the striker wanted to go he is happy to stay and help the club, manager Claudio Ranieri said on Friday.
Earlier this week, Ranieri revealed that Nigeria missed the deadline to inform Watford of their intention to select Dennis, giving the Premier League club the power to decide whether to release the 24-year-old striker for international duty.
Dennis has been Watford’s best player this season with eight goals and five assists in the league. His name was not included in Nigeria’s revised 28-man squad nL1N2TG0DG announced on Friday.
“I knew they were speaking, the (Watford) board and Nigerian board, and I accept every decision they find. For me, it’s finished,” Ranieri told reporters ahead of Saturday’s home game against Tottenham Hotspur.
“They have a lot of players and they changed the manager and they changed everything. We were ready to give them the players, but they didn’t do this. The two boards spoke and for me it’s okay, I’m only the coach and I accept everything.
“Now I spoke with him, of course he wanted to go to play, but also he wanted to help Watford.”
When asked if Watford were being disrespectful towards the tournament by refusing to release Dennis, Ranieri said: “No, no, we respect everybody.”
Injury-hit Watford are 17th, two points above the relegation zone but with two games in hand over the bottom two sides. Ranieri said they could bring in reinforcements when the January transfer window opens.
“My focus is only on Tottenham. When we finish that match I will speak with the board to try to find the right solution for the team,” he added.
Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris
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