Abuja- Flying Eagles’ Head Coach Manu Garba on Saturday expressed optimism that striker Kelechi Iheanacho could still join the team ahead of the 2015 African Youth Championship (AYC).
Garba told newsmen in Abuja on the sidelines of the 2014/2015 Glo Premier Super 4 Invitational Tournament that if Iheanacho’s injury healed on time, he could join the team.
“Iheanacho can still add value to this team with his performance, but he is being held back by an ankle injury.
“But once he is fit again, we will try to make him join the team ahead of the AYC because he is a valuable player,” the coach said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Iheanacho is one of the foreign-based players invited to the Flying Eagles camp ahead of preparations for the 2015 AYC.
However, he was not released by his English clubside, Manchester City, due to the ankle injury.
He said the player, who was the toast of the national under-17 team then, said Iheanacho would have to fight his way in.
“Although we still hope he will join us, this does not mean he will get an automatic shirt when he comes.
“There is no automatic shirt in Flying Eagles. So, when he comes, he will have to show us that we still need him in the team,” Garba said.
The Flying Eagles’ coach however said there were other substitutes for him in the team if Iheanacho was not able to make it at the end of the day.
“We do not rely on any player in the team because we have a pool of players to select from.
“So, if Iheanacho is not able to meet up with us eventually, we have other players in the team that can give us what we want.
“At the FIFA U-17 World Cup in the UAE when Isaac Success was injured, everyone was doubtful of the team. But Taiwo Awoniyi stood up to the task and even did more than many people expected.
“So, that is exactly what we are doing at the under-20 level and we are sure it will lead us to success,” Garba said.
NAN reports that the Flying Eagles have been in camp in preparation for the AYC scheduled for Senegal from March 8 to March 22.
They are also participating in the ongoing 2014/2015 Glo Premier League Super 4 Invitational Tournament as part of their preparations.(NAN)