A planned 11th-hour intervention by the FA could yet prevent Arsenal teenager Alex Iwobi making his competitive Nigeria debut in Friday’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier with Egypt.
The winger has already represented the country of his birth twice in a non-competitive capacity, but will be off limits to England, whom he has played for at Under-16, U17 and U18 level, should he feature for the Super Eagles this week.
According to the Mirror Online, ‘FA chiefs’ regard Iwobi as an England international of the future and their last-ditch bid to convince him to switch allegiances has nothing to do with the fact that he scored at the weekend.
Yes, they may have waited until FOUR DAYS before the Arsenal tyro’s potential competitive debut in a Nigeria shirt before pleading with him to declare for the Three Lions, a simple conversation they could’ve conducted many months ago, but the St George’s Park big shots believe they’ve spotted a rising star.
It’s a sentiment echoed by Iwobi’s club boss Arsene Wenger, who is believed to have told the FA selectors the 19-year-old will play a prominent part for the Gunners in the future and they should persuade him to commit to England.
Assuming there’s some truth to the statement and Wenger’s view is genuine, if his future with Arsenal and England is bright, then the same cannot be said of either Theo Walcott or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Forever locked in a battle to regain form or fitness, the pair have endured frustrating seasons at the Emirates.
Indeed, Iwobi has been thrust into the first-team fray thanks to Oxlade-Chamberlain being in the sick bay and Walcott playing so poorly.
The former Southampton academy graduates have commandeered a wide spot in Arsenal’s attack for several seasons and for as long as both remain on the Gunners’ books their Lagos-born understudy’s path to regular action remains blocked.
If Wenger sees Iwobi becoming a fixture at club level and, eventually, locking down a spot on the right for England, it has to come at the expense of either Walcott or Oxlade-Chamberlain.