Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has hinted that Gervinho will not be rushed back into Premier League duty following his trip to South Africa for the 2013 African Cup of Nations.
The striker may miss over a month of club football as he could be called up for international duty as early as January 5 with players required 14 days prior to the tournament, which commences on January 19.
With the competition concluding on February 10 and Ivory Coast favourites, Gervinho is likely to miss crucial matches against Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool, and even the FA Cup game at Swansea on January 6 – a problem Wenger recognises as inevitable, alongside the issue of fatigue.
“The Africa Cup of Nations starts on January 19, and usually the players have to be there 14 days before – that means we could lose Gervinho on January 5,” Wenger told the club’s official website.
“Usually it’s always a battle to get him to play in the FA Cup third round. When they come back, the players have played a massive competition.
“Last year, we never [got] him back completely because he came back with a disappointing result and we didn’t give him any rest.
“Maybe we have to do it a little bit differently when he comes back [in 2013].”
Ivory Coast begin their Africa Cup of Nations campaign against Togo on January 22. They face Tunisia four days later and complete their group fixtures against Algeria on January 30.