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Nov 6, 2012

Odemwingie admits Nations Cup headache

Peter Odemwingie has confirmed he is handing West Bromwich Albion a headache in the New Year by departing for the African Cup of Nations.

The striker, having earlier denied claims he had retired from international football, has now gone a step further by saying he has cleared the air with Nigerian coach Stephen Keshi and plans to go to the tournament in South Africa in January.

That leaves fifth-placed Albion facing the prospect of being without the forward, who scored both goals in Monday night's 2-0win over Southampton, for up to six matches.

"There were a few things to clarify with the present manager because he substituted me in his first game very early in the second half," Odemwingie said. "I thought that was a message to me, so I was ready for any scenario and I showed that openly.

"But, after speaking to him in the last few weeks, he said it was nothing personal and that the team was playing so badly that, if it was in his power, he would have changed everyone. Everything is now settled and he says if I want to play, I'm welcome. It is my country, that I love, and of course I'm going to play for them.

"I will put the country and the fans before anything if there are any disputes but I'm a very straightforward person. If things are not okay, I don't pretend and say they are fine."

Key Albion midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu is also destined for South Africa after ending his retirement with the DR Congo side but Odemwingie believes the club now have sufficient strength in depth to cope.

The likes of Romelu Lukaku, Chris Brunt, Markus Rosenberg, Steven Reid and Yassine El Ghanassy are all currently unable to force a regular place in Steve Clarke's starting line-up and others are waiting in the wings for a chance.

"It is hard not to go for this ANC," the 31-year-old added. "It could be my last. Now, any player can play well (at Albion)....good players who can play for a whole month and they will do well without me.

"We have players who can play at this level - and Albion took into consideration when recruiting players that a few of us might go. I know it's going to be a bit of a loss us leaving but we hope the players there can follow the team's performance.

"The expectations from our fans are high and the ambition is there. We are showing a very good quality of football as well.

"We were saying in the dressing room that even one point from the previous two games would have put us fourth. That would have been brilliant but we are happy because all we needed in this game was to win.

"The manager said that no good team loses three games in a row, that we should put that in the back of our mind, and just make sure we go out there and win. So we're very pleased."

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