The Super Eagles forward is the most productive player in the Hornets’ frontline this season.
Following reports making the rounds that English Premier League side Watford FC has shown disrespect to the Africa Cup of Nations by hindering Emmanuel Dennis from honouring invitation for the continental showpiece, the club’s manager Claudio Ranieri has defended the decision of keeping their star man as they look to avoid relegation.
Ranieri in a press conference on Friday, December 31 emphasized that the English club which command an array of Super Eagles stars (Troost- Ekong, Etebo, and Dennis) has not disrespected the Nigeria Football Federation by keeping Dennis instead of allowing him feature at the 2022 AFCON slated to hold in Cameroon from January 9-February 6, 2022.
“I knew they were speaking, the Watford board and Nigeria board and I accept every decision they’re fine and that for me is finished,” the Italian said on Friday.
“No [we have not insulted AFCON]. We respect everybody. They have a lot of players and they changed the manager then changed everything.
“We were ready to give them players. They didn’t do this and the two boards spoke and for me it’s ok. I am only the manager, the coach and I accept everything.”
Slavia Prague’s Peter Olayinka has been called up to the camp of the three-time African champions to replace Dennis who is expected to help Watford fight against relegation.
Super Eagles defender Troost-Ekong was released by Ranieri for the tournament while Oghenekharo Etebo continues to nurse his injury.
Dennis, 24, has scored eight times and registered five assists in 17 league games for the EPL side this season. He joined the Hornets in the summer of 2021 in what is his debut Premier League season.