Tuesday Apr 27, 2021. 14:00
Ex-Nigeria international Odion Ighalo’s return to the Super Eagles would depress Victor Osimhen, Kelechi Iheanacho and Paul Onuachu according to former England star John Fashanu.
Ighalo, who retired from international football after the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals in Egypt, has managed to revive his career at Saudi Arabian club Al Shabab following a disappointing spell with English giants Manchester United.
Since 31-year-old Ighalo’s retirement, Nigeria head coach Gernot Rohr has used Napoli star Osimhen, Leicester City striker Iheanacho and Genk marksman Onuachu as the Super Eagles booked their place at the 2022 AFCON finals in Cameroon.
“Experience in football counts but we don’t want to do anything to upset the young boys or make them a little bit depressed,” Fashanu told the Punch.
“The only thing Ighalo has to offer to the national team is his experience, it is not his ability because there are players who are far better than him and we know that.
“If Rohr wants to bring him in because he stabilizes the squad, it is fine. I remember when I was in my 30s and the manager kept bringing me back, it wasn’t because I was a great player but I gave the team confidence.”
Ighalo was Nigeria’s best player at the 2019 AFCON finals where he scooped the Golden Boot award after playing an instrumental role in helping the Super Eagles finish third.
“And that might also be the reason why Rohr wants to bring him back but other than that his time is gone,” Fashanu, who was born in England to a Nigerian father, continued.
“Ighalo is in his 30s and in Nigeria we have fantastic prospects that are fighting to get that spot but not all of them can make the squad.
“If you keep playing the older players it is at the detriment of the younger players. It is high time we start seeing 17, 18-year-old geniuses in the national team,” the former Aston Villa player added.
“Where there is no talent the coach may consider bringing him back but there are so many talents and it would be very wrong to bring him back at this stage.”
Ighalo has netted three goals from five starts in the Saudi Professional League thus far this season having joined the club in February 2021.