It was a major surprise for football fans in Ghana when Christian Atsu was missing from the squad that was named yesterday.
After being in charge of Ghana from 2012 to 2014, Kwasi Appiah has been once again appointed to replace the outgoing Avram Grant, and this was his first squad selection.
The absence of Atsu had caused outrage at the decision amongst the public but after such an adverse reaction, the now reports in the Ghanaian media say that the team management have now leaked the reason for the Newcastle player’s omission.
Many Newcastle fans had guessed that the winger had opted out due to a long season of club football and the finals of the African Cup of Nations earlier this year, plus the fact that the three game call-up, went right up to the weekend before the Newcastle squad returns for pre-season training.
However, according to the media reports in Ghana, instead it has been revealed that Christian Atsu has had surgery.
They say that in response to the criticism of his absence, the Ghana management have leaked the fact that Atsu has had ‘minor knee surgery to correct a longstanding problem’ and that it will take him a month to recover.
After a long hard Championship season, Rafa Benitez revealed that a number of players had continued playing, despite having various injuries/knocks that would have seen them ideally resting.
Matt Ritchie, Jamaal Lascelles and Jamie Sterry all having had surgery since the season concluded, which would make Christian Atsu the fourth.
Christian Atsu has played more matches this year for Newcastle than he has ever previously done in his career for other clubs – plus of course he was Ghana’s top player and named in the team of the tournament at the African Cup of Nations.
If the reports of surgery are true, it would also maybe explain why there was no photo shoot etc when the winger made his move to Newcastle permanent earlier this week. The reports say that the surgery was carried out the same day (Wednesday) when Atsu’s transfer was announced.
With such a massive challenge ahead in the Premier League, maybe not the worst thing that so few players are heading off with their countries for international football.
The only two senior players who are currently scheduled to be involved, are Daryl Murphy and Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Friday morning also brought news that Chris Coleman was very disappointed with Paul Dummett, the Newcastle defender having now opted out of playing international football.