It’s a pain in the neck, but West Bromwich Albion boss Steve Clarke needs to start thinking about the African Cup of Nations.

Taking place between January 21 and February 10, the tournament, which is being held in South Africa, will annoy all of the Premier League managers affected by the loss of players.

For Albion it will mean the absence of Nigeria’s Peter Odemwingie and Youssouf Mulumbu of DR Congo.

Not ideal.

Odemwingie and Mulumbu, assuming both are fit and selected, will definitely miss three Premier League games – Reading (a), Villa (h) and Everton (a).

If Nigeria and/or Congo reach the quarter-finals then the players will also be absent for the visit of Spurs.

Should they reach the last four – which would guarantee a third place play-off for the losers and a place in the final for the victors – then they would also miss the trip to Liverpool.

Although the Reading games falls before the tournament, players are normally called up a fortnight prior to a tournament - sometimes even before if there are warm-up games arranged.

Clarke isn’t get too animated about the prospect just yet.

For Odemwingie this is a new challenge and one which perhaps didn’t present itself until recently when he and Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi had a coming together of words.

Asked whether he intended to feature for Nigeria, Odemwingie said: “Yes. There were a few things to clarify with the present manager because he substituted me in his first game very early in the second half.

“I thought that was a message to me so I was ready for any scenario and I showed that openly.

“But after speaking to him in the last few weeks, he said it was nothing personal and that the team was playing so badly, that if it was in his power he would have changed everyone.

“Everything is now settled. He’ll say if he wants me to play and if I’m welcome, but it is my country – a country I love – so of course, I’m going to play for them.

“I will put the country and the fans before anything if there are any disputes but I’m a very straightforward person.”

Odemwingie admits he is torn by the prospect of leaving Albion for, potentially, five weeks. But he feels Albion will be in good hands.

“You know, it is hard not to go for this African Cup of Nations,” he added.

“It could be my last one and it is a different situation (at Albion) now from my first two years when my goals were very important.

“Now any player can play well, good players who can play for a whole month (At Albion) and they will do well without me.”