Zaha has made 19 appearances for Crystal Palace this season, scoring three goals

Afcon 2017: Ex-England winger Wilfried Zaha named in Ivory Coast squad

Zaha has made 19 appearances for Crystal Palace this season, scoring three goals
Zaha has made 19 appearances for Crystal Palace this season, scoring three goals

Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha has been named in Ivory Coast’s provisional squad for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Zaha’s inclusion follows his decision to switch international allegiance from England, where he grew up.

The 24-year-old was born in Ivory Coast but has two England caps, having played against Sweden in November 2012 and Scotland the following year.

As both were friendly matches, he is permitted to commit his international future to his country of birth.

The tournament in Gabon, which starts on 14 January, could see Zaha miss up to six weeks of the season for Palace.

Manchester United defender Eric Bailly has also been called up to the 24-man squad by French coach Michel Dussuyer, as has veteran forward Salomon Kalou, who is set to appear in his fifth Nations Cup.

However former Arsenal forward Gervinho – who now play for Hebei Fortune in China – will be absent after injuring his anterior cruciate ligament.

One player will be cut from the party before the tournament starts.

“Gervinho’s absence weighs down on us, for sure. But we have had several weeks to get used to the idea,” Dussuyer said. “The arrival of Zaha is therefore great news. His profile is similar to Gervinho’s.”

The defending champions have a training camp in Abu Dhabi starting on 2 January.

“One of the challenges facing us in camp will be that some of the players will be rested and others – those playing in England – will be tired and in need of some rest,” Dussuyer said.

Ivory Coast kick off the tournament against Togo on 16 January, before facing DR Congo and Morocco in the group stage.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Sylvain Gbohuo (TP Mazembe, DR Congo), Badra Sangare (AS Tanda, Ivory Coast), Mande Sayouba (Stabaek, Norway)

Defenders: Serge Aurier (PSG, France), Mamadou Bagayoko (St Trond VV, Belgium), Eric Bailly (Manchester United, England), Simon Deli (Slavia Prague, Czech Rep), Ousmane Viera Diarrassouba (Adanaspor, Turkey), Wilfried Kanon (ADO, Netherlands), Lamine Kone (Sunderland, England), Adama Traore (Basel, Switzerland)

Midfielders: Victorien Angban (Grenada, Spain), Cheik Doukoure (Metz, France), Franck Kessie (Atalanta, Italy), Yao Serge N’guessan (AS Nancy, France), Geoffroy Serey Die (Basel, Switzerland), Jean Michael Seri (Nice, France)

Forwards: Wilfried Bony (Stoke City, England), Max Gradel (Bournemouth, England), Salomon Kalou (Hertha Berlin, Germany), Jonathan Kodjia (Aston Villa, England), Nicolas Pepe (Angers, France), Giovanni Sio (Stade Rennes, France), Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace, England)

*BBC

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