Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha has been named in the Ivory Coast’s provisional squad for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.
The Ivorian federation (FIF) announced in November that they had convinced the 24-year-old to switch his international allegiance having gone unrecognised by the England setup since the last of his two caps, both in friendlies, in August 2013.
Zaha has been one of the few bright sparks in a disappointing season for Palace, contributing three goals and eight assists in 17 league games, enough to convince England manager Gareth Southgate to launch a bid to convince the winger to return to the England fold.
However it may be too late after the FIF, who had always insisted they were “confident” Zaha would choose to switch to the Ivory Coast, named the winger on a provisional list of players for the Cup of Nations, which begins in Gabon on January 14.
The departure of Zaha to Africa for almost a month would represent a significant blow to new Palace manager Sam Allardyce, who could be without a key attacking player for five weeks and as many as eight games if the Ivory Coast were to reach the final.
Manchester United centre-back Eric Bailly was also included the Ivory Coast training squad, which must be trimmed to 23 players before the Elephants kick off their tournament against Togo in Oyem on January 16.