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By ESPN Staff
Nov 20, 2007

Wenger resigned to loss of Ivorian pair

Arsene Wenger maintains he will not bother approaching the 'stubborn' Ivory Coast management over delaying the release of Arsenal duo Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Eboue to play in January's African Nations Cup. While striker Emmanuel Adebayor could not help Togo qualify for the tournament which kicks off in Ghana at the turn of the year, the Gunners could be without two of their first-team regulars for more than a month. And there is also the possibility that Alex Song could be called up by Cameroon. After hosting West Ham on New Year's Day, Arsenal then have an FA Cup third-round tie that weekend, followed by a potential two-legged Carling Cup semi-final as well as five Premier League games and a possible FA Cup fourth-round date on February 16. Wenger - whose team currently top the Premier League - is all too aware of the problems this could cause, particularly in terms of central defensive cover should there be any injuries or suspensions. The Arsenal manager, though, maintains he is resigned to allowing those selected the maximum time off required, given the frustrations endured in the past. 'They will go at the beginning of January. They have to be available for their country 15 days before the start of the tournament,' Wenger told the December issue of the official Arsenal magazine. 'Before the last tournament we tried to negotiate a later release date with the Ivory Coast, but we had no success so we won't try this time. 'They are so stubborn that there is no point in even speaking to them. 'We will give them the players when they are due, and won't even speak to the Ivorian federation about it.' Wenger continued: 'We were so disappointed with their attitude last time. We had to pull Manu and Kolo out of the FA Cup game against Cardiff [in 2006] an hour before kick off. 'The Ivory Coast were adamant they had to join up, even though they were only going to be sitting in a hotel room in Paris doing nothing. 'Eboue had not played many games back then, so it would have been good for him to play in the FA Cup tie. But they wanted to meet up on a Saturday night, and even though our game was early that day. they refused to give us permission to play them. 'This was not even to go to Africa, but to go to Paris, where they would not even start fitness tests until the Monday. 'They just sat in the hotel that weekend, and I said to them 'let's be a little bit logical here' - but it was impossible. 'It is not the players' fault at all, but the Ivory Coast management were very stubborn, and unnecessarily so because it would have been better for their preparation. 'So this time I count them out from about January 5 until approximately the middle of February.'