Tuesday 16 January 2018

Arsenal star Alex Iwobi to face decision between England or Nigeria

Arsenal's Alex Iwobi is congratulated by team-mates after the final whistle. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Arsenal's Alex Iwobi is congratulated by team-mates after the final whistle. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Samuel Stevens

Alex Iwobi is at the centre of a Football Association tug-of-war after a succession of impressive displays for Arsenal.

The 19-year-old winger was destined to commit his international future to Nigeria, the country of his birth, but has represented England at under-16, 17 and 18 levels - opening the door for a last-ditch attempt to persuade him otherwise.

Despite representing his homeland on two occasions, both friendlies, the nephew of former Bolton midfielder Jay-Jay Okocha is still eligible for Roy Hodgson’s side.

Back in September, England succeeded in persuading Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish to choose them over the Republic of Ireland but the 20-year-old Solihull-born winger has endured a torrid campaign in the Midlands.

With little chance of making Hodgson’s squad for the European Championship in France this summer, Grealish is yet to feature for the national side since announcing his intention to turn down the advances of Republic manager Martin O'Neill.

Iwobi, meanwhile, is in line to make his competitive debut for Nigeria this week after being named in their Africa Cup of Nations qualifying squad. The winger scored for the Gunners on his first Premier League start against Everton this weekend after also featuring at Barcelona in the Champions League in midweek.

“He played for the England youth teams for a while,” explained manager Arsene Wenger, at Goodison Park on Saturday. “And after that, the U19s didn’t play him. No, they didn’t pick him. He has not played in the under-19s, basically, and he has a choice, you know.

“I think he has chosen Nigeria and we have to respect that. He travels Sunday to Nigeria, and will join up with them. We’ll see what stands in the way. Already the Africa Cup of Nations was in January, so when the players have a choice.”

Independent News Service

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