Thomas Partey misses out on Arsenal's clash vs Sevilla due to injury. (Image: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Black Stars head coach, Chris Hughton, has disclosed that Thomas Partey would have undoubtedly secured a spot in the squad for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) if not for his ongoing injury setback.

Partey, still on the path to complete recovery from a hamstring injury sustained after the October international break, has been absent from both club and country engagements since featuring in Ghana’s friendlies against Mexico and the United States of Ghana.

Despite making progress in grass training, Hughton has opted not to include Partey in the AFCON squad, allowing the Arsenal midfielder to focus on his recuperation at the club.

“Thomas Partey is a pivotal player for us. Had it not been for his injury, he would unquestionably be part of the squad; we recognize his caliber. This player endured a significant injury,” remarked the Irish coach when addressing queries about his 27-man squad.

Hughton, who has been closely coordinating with Partey and Arsenal’s medical team, emphasized the need for caution in handling the injury.

He acknowledged the severity of Partey’s injury, labeling it as the most substantial in the player’s career.

“As head coach, my top priority is to offer him the support he requires during this period. Based on the information available, the expected recovery timelines and the cautious approach being taken, it is clear that his recuperation will not align with our AFCON schedule,” he added.

The Black Stars find themselves in Group B for the AFCON, facing tough competition from Egypt, Cape Verde, and Mozambique.

As they aim to end the nation’s 41-year trophy drought, the team officially commenced training camp in Kumasi today.

As part of their preparations, Chris Hughton’s squad is set to engage in a friendly match against Namibia at the Baba Yara Stadium on January 8 before departing for Ivory Coast on January 10.

The AFCON tournament is scheduled to run from January 13 to February 11.