Emmanuel Dennis will no longer be travelling to the African Cup of Nations and will instead be staying at Watford.

The striker, who has scored eight goals this season, was given a call up following a change of manager for Nigeria, for the first time in over a year.

However, a dispute over the timing of his call-up led the Hornets to believe they were able to prevent him from going, with head coach Claudio Ranieri stating after the 4-1 defeat to West Ham on Tuesday: "I’m not so sure I will miss him now, I don’t know if he goes. Let’s think about it this week and then I will tell you.

"The national team has a time to send their precall, they don’t respect the days and I want to see very well.

"I know the email arrived late and I want to know everything. The national team has a time, during this time they have to send the precall, if they don’t send the precall, we can choose."

That has since proved to be true, with confirmation coming from club sources this morning that the striker would no longer be attending the tournament. 

The exact reason for the club being able to prevent him from attending is not entirely clear at the moment, but it is understood that the striker was not given the assurances that he would have liked about his position in the squad.

Had he been seen as a starter, he might have pushed harder to go to the tournament, but no guarantees were forthcoming.

A statement released by the Nigerian Football Federation accused the Hornets of "baring fangs" in their fight to keep their top scorer.

It reads: "In-form rapid raider Emmanuel Dennis whose English Premier League club is baring fangs, has been excused."

Dennis has since been replaced in the Nigeria squad by Slavia Prague's Peter Olayinka.

Whatever the reason for his release from the competition, the Hornets will no doubt be buoyed by the fact that they will now have him available for some key games against relegation rivals.

Previously, had he travelled to the tournament, he would have missed fixtures against both Newcastle United and Norwich City, as well as the FA Cup third round tie against Leicester City.