Demba Ba hopes that Newcastle United fans will "understand" his absence when he represents Senegal at next year's Africa Cup of Nations.
Ba, 26, is set to be unavailable for Newcastle selection for around a month when Senegal take part in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, which is co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea and starts on January 21.
The striker has been a key performer for the Magpies since joining the club on a free transfer in the summer, scoring eight goals to help lift his side to third in the Premier League table.
Ba told the Northern Echo: "I understand why Newcastle supporters are disappointed that I will be away for a few weeks at the African Cup of Nations, but I hope they also understand why it is so important to me to play in it.
"Senegal is my nation and back home in Senegal, it would mean so much to the people if we were to do well in the competition.
"Playing for your country is still one of the biggest honours in the game, and when it is in a major tournament, it is even more special. I want to go there and try to help my team-mates and my country win the competition.
"Next summer, everyone over here will be getting excited about England playing in the European Championships. Well this is the same for us. It is exactly the same importance, it is just unfortunate that it happens during the Premier League season. It is a shame I will have to miss some Newcastle games."
Ba, who has ten caps to his name, scored a crucial goal for Senegal during qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations - netting a stoppage time winner against group rivals Cameroon in March.