Watford could prevent Emmanuel Dennis from taking part in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) next month.
Watford coach, Claudio Ranieri, claimed on Wednesday that Nigeria had missed the deadline to call him up for the tournament.
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Dennis, 24, was named in Nigeria’s 28-man AFCON squad on Boxing Day.
He was happy over the news of his invitation on Twitter, posting: “Proud to get a call up to represent my country.”
However, Ranieri has since cast doubt over his participation in the event, as he believes Watford have grounds to keep him, claiming Nigeria failed to submit a ‘pre-call’ before a specific deadline.
“I’m not so sure I’ll miss Dennis now and if he goes to the national team, we have to wait,” Daily Mail quoted the Hornets boss as saying.
“The email didn’t arrive at the right moment. The national team has a time to send a pre-call. They didn’t respect the days, and I want to see.
“The email arrived late. They have a time when they need to send a pre-call; if they don’t send it, we can choose.”
Dennis has been a revelation since joining Watford, scoring eight goals in the 2021/2022 Premier League season for Ranieri’s 17th-place side already.
He was due to meet up with the Nigeria squad after Watford’s Premier League clash with Tottenham on New Year’s Day.
When contacted, the General Secretary of the Nigeria Football Federation, Dr Mohammed Sanusi, said the federation is working on the release of the player.
He declined further details on the issue.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria have already opened camp in Abuja ahead of the competition.
The AFCON starts on January 9 but Nigeria’s opening fixture at the tournament comes two days later against Egypt.