Arsenal boss frustrated as Nations Cup robs his team of key players
LONDON - Arsene Wenger says the management of the Ivory Coast are so "stubborn" the late release of Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Eboue cannot be negotiated.
Arsenal's defensive duo are due to join their national side for January's African Nations Cup in Ghana.
It means the Gunners will be without both players for more than a month at a crucial stage of the season.
"They'll go at the beginning of January to be available 15 days before the start of the event," Wenger said.
While striker Emmanuel Adebayor could not help Togo qualify for the tournament, there is the possibility that Alex Song could be called up by Cameroon.
Wenger - whose team currently top the English Premier League - is all too aware of the problems this could cause, particularly in terms of defensive cover should there be any injuries or suspensions.
After hosting West Ham on New Year's Day, Arsenal then have an FA Cup third-round tie to play, followed by a potential two-legged League Cup semifinal.
There is also five Premier League games and a further possible FA Cup fourth-round date on February 16 to play.
The Arsenal manager, though, maintains he is resigned to allowing those selected the maximum time off required, given the frustrations endured in the past.
"Before the last tournament we tried to negotiate a late release date with the Ivory Coast, but we had no success so we won't try this time.
"They are so stubborn that there is no point in even speaking to them.
"We will give them the players when they are due, and won't even speak to the Ivorian federation about it."
Wenger continued: "We were so disappointed with their attitude last time."
Cameroon's Alex Song could add to Wenger's Cup of Nations loss
"We had to pull Eboue and Toure out of the FA Cup games against Cardiff in 2006 an hour before kick-off.
"The Ivory Coast were adamant they had to join up, even though they were only going to be sitting in a hotel room in Paris doing nothing.
"They just sat in the hotel that weekend, and I said to them 'let's be a little bit logical here' - but it was impossible.
"It is not the players' fault at all, but the Ivory Coast management were very stubborn, and unnecessarily so because it would have been better for their preparation.
"So this time I count them out from about January 5 until approximately the middle of February." - BBC