Ghana omit Appiah and Muntari
Essien, 29, limped off with a hamstring injury during Chelsea's 2-2 draw against APOEL Nicosia earlier this month, and is not certain to be have fully recovered for next month's tournament.
Like Essien and Gyan Asamoah, Inter Milan midfielder Ali Muntari refused to play in a friendly against Angola on 18 November but has been punished for disciplinary reasons after failing to pay a fine.
Appiah has not sufficiently recovered from a right leg injury and will miss the tournament for the second time after already missing the 2008 edition in his homeland through injury.
Coach Milovan Rajevac called up six of the recent FIFA U-20 World Cup winners including Fredrikstad striker Dominic Adiyiah, the top scorer and player of the tournament.