independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Anichebe focused on Everton

Victor Anichebe wants to repay Everton for the faith they showed during a long injury spell

Striker Victor Anichebe is putting his international career on hold in order to focus on Everton.

Last week, Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi claimed the 25-year-old was not returning his calls and, as a result, he had not selected him for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers. Anichebe has now revealed international duty has been put on the back-burner as he wants to repay his club for the faith they showed during a long spell of injury.

Two serious knee problems curtailed his availability from 2009 onwards and when he did finally return to fitness, a groin injury playing for Nigeria in September 2011 meant another four months on the sidelines. And he told BBC Sport: "I owe it to the club to manage myself correctly. I have always been proud to represent my country."

He added: "But it is becoming more and more evident that with the injuries I have had over the last two years or so, I have to manage my body accordingly. That's why I feel the best thing for me at the moment is to concentrate on club football.

"Without club football there is no international football and everyone at Everton was with me every step of the way during my injuries and rehabilitation.

"I didn't feel that the Nigerian Football Federation was there for me the in the same manner, which was especially disappointing given that I got the injury representing my country.

"But I don't blame anyone for this nor do I have any issues with anybody from the NFF or Stephen Keshi our coach. He has done a fantastic job and is building a team that Nigerians can be proud of."

Anichebe was a member of Nigeria's silver medal-winning under-23 team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, from where he progressed to the senior side. He has since missed out on selection for a World Cup and this year's African Nations Cup, which was won by Nigeria.

Anichebe added: "The time is just not right for me to resume my international career as of yet but I would certainly love to represent my country in the not-too-distant future."

The striker, who has become the Toffees' first-choice attacking threat in recent weeks as a result of Nikica Jelavic's dramatic loss of form, is set to lead the line again in this weekend's Merseyside derby at Anfield - where the Blues have not won since 1999.

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