Michael Essien returns to international action for Ghana, having been named as one of 22 players in the Black Stars' squad for Sunday's 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier against Benin in Kumasi.

Essien was a constant feature in the starting 11 throughout the first group phase last year but has since spent several months sidelined after sustaining anterior cruciate ligament damage back in September.

He brings even more quality and experience to a midfield that also includes Sulley Muntari from Inter Milan and captain Stephen Appiah, selected despite not having played club football this season.

Ghana's coach Milovan Rajevac has also selected Rahim Ayew, son of the former African Footballer of the Year, Abedi Pele, for the match.

Rahim follows in the footsteps of his father and younger brother Dede, who was in the Ghana squad for last year's CAF Africa Cup of Nations finals but has since lost his place.

Hoffenheim defender Isaac Vorsah and Kwadwo Asamoah of Udinese have also broke into the squad while Stade Rennes attacker, Asamoah Gyan makes a return after being injured during the 2008 CAF Africa Cup of Nations.

"This is an important game we have to win and it's also important to have a large pool to work with," said Rajevac.  "There will always be special players. These are players who have to do something different for the team at different times. They play special roles for us," he added.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Richard Kingson (Wigan Athletic, England), Philemon MacCarthy (Hearts of Oak, Ghana).

Defenders: Eric Addo (Roda JC Kerkrade/NED). Harrison Afful (Fetteh Feyenoord), Nana Akwasi Asare (KV Mechelen/BEL), Samuel Inkoom (Asante Kotoko), Jonathan Mensah (Free State Stars/RSA), John Pantsil (Fulham/ENG), Jonathan Quartey (Kaizer Chiefs/RSA), Isaac Vorsah (Hoffenheim/GER).

Midfielders: Anthony Annan (Rosenborg/NOR), Stephen Appiah (unattached), Rahim Ayew (Sekondi Eleven Wise), Michael Essien (Chelsea/ENG), Sulley Muntari (Inter Milan/ITA), Moussa Narry (AJ Auxerre/FRA), Daniel Yeboah (Heart of Lions).

Forwards: Matthew Amoah (NAC Breda/NED), Kwadwo Asamoah (Udinese/ITA), Asamoah Gyan (Rennes/FRA), Prince Tagoe (Al-Ittifaq/KSA), Samuel Yeboah (Hapoel Tel Aviv/ISR).