Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti has given permission to crocked Ghana midfielder Michael Essien to leave for the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola at the end of the month.
Also granted permission by the Italian manager are Ivory Coast strikers Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou and Nigerian midfielder John Mikel Obi. Essien is facing a battle to be fit in time after collecting a hamstring injury against APOEL in their final Champions League game in midweek.
Ancelotti is happy for Ghana to send over their doctor to examine Essien and he insists the player should be fit in time to leave on 28 December. But it is unlikely that Essien will play for Chelsea before joining up with his country.
Essien will miss five club games in January, including their FA Cup third round tie against Watford at Stamford Bridge. "The African players can all go on December 28," confirmed Ancelotti. "Michael had a scan and I think he will be out for between three and four weeks.
"The aim is to work to improve his injury but I think he will be ready to go on December 28, if he stays well. "I have no problem with the Ghana doctor coming here. If they want to come here to see Essien, there is no problem."
The African Nations Cup runs from January 10-31 but Ancelotti is happy for the quartet to leave early and join their respective pre-tournament training camps.
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