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Rajevac mulling over Essien

Ghana coach could risk Chelsea midfielder

Last Updated: 04/01/10 5:01pm

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Essien: Will be assessed

Essien: Will be assessed

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Ghana coach Milovan Rajevac is undecided whether Michael Essien will start their African Cup of Nations opener, while John Mensah is out of the tournament.

The Chelsea midfielder has been struggling with a hamstring injury recently and it is touch and go whether he will be fit enough for their opener against Togo in Angola on Sunday.

Essien is due to link up with his team-mates in Swaziland on Tuesday and Rajevac is keen to asses his level of fitness before finalising his starting XI for their opening match.

"We will see after his injury whether we will use him from the beginning of the tournament," he told Kick Off Ghana.

"We will decide on that when he is here.

"There is a hierarchy in the team and in the absence of Stephen Appiah and John Mensah, Essien is next as captain.

"I expect that with his professionalism he will lead the team well. He will definitely be captain with a lead role to play."

Mensah out

Meanwhile, one player Rajevac will be unable to call upon is Sunderland's Mensah (hamstring), whose participation in the tournament is over.

Mensah linked up with his team-mates hoping to feature late on in the tournament, however, he will now return to Wearside for treatment.

The Black Cats defender joins the likes of captain Appiah, John Pantsil and Laryea Kingston on the sidelines.

Despite the current injury crisis, goalkeeper Richard Kingston has called on the senior players to come to the fore.

"The injuries have been unfortunate, but we have to carry on," he said.

"In the current situation some of us will have to play really big roles because of our experience at this level and I am happy to do that."

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