Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien has stood down from international football for the foreseeable future, claims Ghana coach Milovan Rajevac.
Essien has been missing without explanation from two Ghana squads named since the World Cup, including that named for the start of the 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifiers this weekend.
The 27-year-old star suffered a knee injury during the 2010 African Cup of Nations back in January which not only ruled him out for the rest of the season for Chelsea but also the World Cup, when Ghana reached the quarter-finals.
Essien is back in action, making four appearances for Chelsea so far this season, and he has told his national team coach he wants to focus on rediscovering his best form with his club before being considered again for international duty.
"He contacted me and wanted to ask for permission to be excused for a while," Rajevac said in Swaziland ahead of Sunday's qualifier.
"I understood his thoughts and, of course, I wanted to help him to get into his old form, to start playing regularly, and I gave that permission."
Essien was just returning from a hamstring tear with Chelsea in December when he picked up his knee problem with Ghana in January.
The former Lyon man has made 51 international appearances for the Black Stars, playing in the 2006 World Cup, and it was not the first time he has suffered a serious injury while on international duty.
"I'm sure that after some time he will come back to the national team," Rajevac added.