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Page last updated at 11:41 GMT, Thursday, 17 January 2008

LeRoy - Appiah still an influence

Stephen Appiah
Stephen Appiah could miss the rest of the season with a knee injury

Ghana coach Claude LeRoy says captain Stephen Appiah remains a vital part of his Africa Cup of Nations squad despite missing the tournament through injury.

Appiah has been sidelined for the duration of the event hosted by his home nation with a troublesome knee.

However, the 27-year-old is due to join up with his Ghana team-mates on 18 January.

"He is the natural leader of this team, so it will be great to have him with us," LeRoy said.

"When you are a coach you must not be afraid of having a big star around you, trying to help you - he brings something extra."

Appiah, who will stay with the team throughout the tournament, played the last Nations Cup in Egypt with an ankle injury, hobbling through three matches in midfield.

LeRoy said his absence this year was a serious blow to Ghana's chances.

"We have been working step by step to find a solution to playing without him.

"At the beginning it was very difficult, we felt the loss on the pitch because he has been our tactical backbone - we will miss him a lot," Le Roy added.

Ghana play the tournament curtain-raiser against Guinea, in Accra, on 20 January.

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see also
Gyan cleared for Ghana's opener
16 Jan 08 |  African
LeRoy bemoans Appiah injury blow
28 Dec 07 |  African
Appiah forced out of Nations Cup
28 Dec 07 |  African
'No deadline' for Appiah - GFA
24 Dec 07 |  African

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