Alex Iwobi’s current poor form is a major worry for Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr, our correspondent has learnt.
The 21-year-old forward, who burst onto the scene in 2015 and enjoyed starting roles in Arsenal’s first squad until last season, has copped heavy criticism this term because of his inconsistency and paltry form.
Iwobi, who sent many Super Eagles fans into a frenzy when he switched his international allegiance to Nigeria from England in 2017, has only scored two Premier League goals in 21 appearances.
And his poor form has also sparked concerns that the former England junior international’s inclusion in Nigeria’s Russia 2018 World Cup squad may not benefit the Eagles much.
With Kelechi Iheanacho struggling at Leicester City, our correspondent learnt that Rohr fears that he could have China-based striker Odion Ighalo as the only trusted top striker in Russia.
A source close to the team told our correspondent that the former Gabon manager is considering his options and has decided to invite Italy-based forward Simeon Nwankwo, who has been knocking on the national team’s door by scoring eye-catching goals in the Serie A.
The 25-year-old Crotone striker scored his fourth Serie A goal in the 2-1 defeat of Udinese at Stadio Friuli on Sunday to help pull Gli Squali (The Sharks) a bit clear of relegation zone.
Nwankwo, who was on the books of Portuguese club Gil Vicente from 2013 to 2016, stepped into the spotlight on April 18, after he latched on a loose ball to bury a spectacular overhead kick from inside the box into the net to level the score in their 1-1 draw against Italian powerhouse Juventus at Ezio Scida.
Sources close to Rohr said the former Burkina Faso coach, who has been monitoring the player’s performance in recent times, “is highly impressed by Nwankwo’s style of play”.
Spokesman for the senior national team Toyin Ibitoye refused to confirm nor deny if the Crotone star would be invited by Rohr to fight for his place in the World Cup squad.
He said, “Rohr hasn’t named his provisional or final squad so all players are on his radar. We are happy that many of our players are playing well and scoring too.”