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Essien returns for Ghana

Michael Essien has returned to the Ghana squad for an upcoming African Nations Cup qualifier against Congo after ending a self-imposed 16-month exile from the national side.

Essien's last appearance for the Black Stars came in the same competition in 2010 in a match against Ivory Coast, but he suffered an injury and then opted to withdraw his services at international level in order to focus on overcoming persistent fitness problems.

The Chelsea midfielder has now decided the time is right to return and has been named by coach Goran Stevanovic in a 24-man squad to face Congo on June 3 and South Korea in a friendly international four days later.

Ghana, currently top of Group I with seven points in qualifying, have excluded Hans Sarpei despite his success in helping Schalke reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Ghana squad: Richard Kingson (Blackpool) Sammy Adjei (Hearts of Oak), Ernest Sowah (Berekum Chelsea); John Pantsil (Fulham), Samuel Inkoom (Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk), Daniel Opare (Standard Liege), David Addy (Academica Coimbra), Jonathan Mensah (Granada), Isaac Vorsah (Hoffenheim), John Mensah (Sunderland), Lee Addy (Red Star Belgrade); Anthony Annan (Schalke), Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu (Udinese), Michael Essien (Chelsea), Kwadwo Asamoah (Udinese), Sulley Muntari (Sunderland), Derek Boateng (Getafe), Kevin-Prince Boateng (Milan), Andre Ayew (Marseille), Opoku Agyemang (Al-Ahli); Asamoah Gyan (Sunderland), Prince Tagoe (Partizan Belgrade), Dominic Adiyiah (Partizan Belgrade), Emmanuel Clottey (Berekum Chelsea).

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