Nicolas Jackson has divided opinion since he joined Chelsea during the 2023 summer transfer window, but there is no doubt the Blues will miss him during his participation in the Africa Cup of Nations.
The Senegal international has been selected to represent his country during the delayed 2023 edition of AFCON and will be absent for a number of Chelsea games as a result.
The 22-year-old has scored seven goals and provided two assists in 19 Premier League games so far this season, but multiple glaring misses has meant that a barrage of criticism has headed his way since he moved to Stamford Bridge.
However, Jackson’s all-round game has been encouraging for a player with very little top level experience and if he can add consistent goals to his game, then Chelsea will have a brilliant player on their hands.
Regardless, Mauricio Pochettino will be without the Senegalese striker for several weeks due to AFCON and will be forced to navigate a congested schedule without one of his key players.
The number of Chelsea games that Jackson will miss will depend on how far Senegal progress in the competition.
When will Nicolas Jackson be back from Africa Cup of Nations?
The length of Jackson’s absence will depend entirely on how well Senegal perform in the competition. The minimum number of Chelsea games he will miss is four, while the maximum is eight.
Jackson will first be in action at AFCON when Senegal face Gambia on Monday, 15 January at 14:00 GMT. Senegal are in Group C, alongside Cameroon, Gambia and Guinea.
Senegal’s second game of 2023 AFCON is scheduled for Friday, 19 January (vs Cameroon) and their final group stage match takes place on Tuesday, 23 January (vs Guinea).
If Senegal are knocked out in the group stages, then Jackson will miss four Chelsea games and will return for their trip to Anfield to face Liverpool on 31 January.
Chelsea games that Nicolas Jackson will definitely miss due to AFCON participation
If Senegal progress beyond the group stages then Chelsea will be without Jackson for an even longer time period.
If Senegal are eliminated at the round of 16 stage, Jackson will also be absent for Chelsea’s potential FA Cup fourth-round tie (if they beat Preston in the third-round) and will most likely miss their Premier League clash against Liverpool, although he could return in time if Senegal finish second in Group C and then lose their last-16 tie on 27 January.
If Senegal are eliminated in the quarter-finals, Jackson will definitely miss the trip to Anfield and is extremely likely to be absent against Wolves on 4 February too (the quarter-final match will take place on either 2 February or 3 February).
Nicolas Jackson scores his FIRST Premier League goal for Chelsea ✅ pic.twitter.com/kIIWJJx6dn
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) August 25, 2023
If Senegal are eliminated in the semi-finals, Jackson will definitely miss the home game against Wolves and would highly likely be missing versus Crystal Palace on 12 February as he would be in third-place play-off action less than 48 hours earlier.
If Senegal reach the final, then Jackson will be absent against Crystal Palace and his next Chelsea appearance would likely come against Manchester City on 17 February (if he is selected by Pochettino).
Additional Chelsea games that Nicolas Jackson could miss if Senegal reach the 2023 AFCON final
Why has 2023 AFCON been delayed?
The tournament was scheduled to be held between June and July 2023, but a rainy summer season in Ivory Coast ensured AFCON was cancelled and rescheduled for January 2024. As a result, several top players will miss domestic games in order to represent their country.
The first fixture of the tournament is on Saturday, 13 January, with hosts Ivory Coast taking on Guinea-Bissau.