Injured Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien has been left out of Ghana's preliminary squad for next month's African Cup of Nations.

There was hope that Essien might recover from the right knee surgery he underwent in July in time for the African Cup, but he was not named in coach Goran Stevanovic's initial 25-man selection for the Jan. 21-Feb. 12 tournament.

That suggests he will miss another major competition for Ghana, although teams do not have to finalize their squads until next month.

The 29-year-old Essien ruptured a cruciate ligament at preseason training with Chelsea, his third serious knee injury.

He missed most of the 2010 Cup of Nations and the entire World Cup last year after injuring the same knee.