Newcastle United winger Christian Atsu will have been hoping to stake a claim for a return to the starting line up with some strong performances for Ghana over the international break.
Unfortunately for him that will now not happen, with Ghana’s African Cup of Nations qualifier against Sierra Leone postponed after their opponents failed to overturn a ban from CAF, as confirmed by the Ghana FA.
The Black Stars will now play a friendly against local club side Asante Kotoko, in a game which will do nothing for Atsu’s ambitions to regain his starting place for the Magpies.
The 26-year-old speedster has started just two matches for Rafa Benitez this season, one coming in a league loss to Leicester, with the other coming in a Carabao Cup defeat by Nottingham Forest.
Those results may look like an unlucky reflection on Atsu, but the truth is that he has been poor when called upon, and it is no wonder he is not starting for the club anymore.
The rarely-seen flyer needs some big performances for Ghana if he is to catch Benitez’s eye again, but unfortunately that now looks unlikely to happen this time round with their next match, also against Sierra Leone, likely to follow suit.
Unless he begins to really impress in training, or perform when called upon from the bench, then it looks like Atsu will likely have to settle for a substitute role for the rest of the season at St. James’ Park.
His form has simply not been good enough, and this latest blow will simply push him further into the shadows on Tyneside.