LONDON. — The English FA are making a last-ditch bid to try to stop Arsenal starlet Alex Iwobi committing his international future to Nigeria. New kid on the block Iwobi is at the centre of a tug of war between England and Nigeria again after becoming a regular in the Gunners’ first team set-up since the turn of the year.
The 19-year-old has started three of Arsenal’s last four games and capped his full English Premier League debut at Everton on Saturday with a man-of-the-match display and his first Gunners goal.
Forward Iwobi has already slipped through England’s fingers once, having played for the Three Lions’ Under-16, Under-17 and Under-18 sides before choosing to represent Nigeria — the country of his birth.
Iwobi -nephew of former Super Eagles captain Jay Jay Okocha – has played in two friendlies for Nigeria, but won’t be officially tied to them until he plays a competitive game.
That has left the door open for the FA to try to persuade him to switch back and represent England – but they are facing a race against time.
Iwobi is in line to make his competitive debut this week after being named in Nigeria’s squad for their Africa Cup of Nations qualifying double header against Egypt, who they host this Friday before the away return next Tuesday. That has prompted desperate late attempts from the FA to try to get Iwobi to change his mind.
There is no suggestion Iwobi will be fast-tracked into the senior England set-up and handed a premature call-up.
But FA chiefs do see him as a potential future Three Lions international and know their hopes of landing him will be dashed if he plays in Nigeria’s upcoming games.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has backed up the FA’s views on Iwobi by giving the youngster a glowing reference.
He is understood to have told the FA the player has a big future at the North Londoners and, having let him get away once, they should do everything possible to try to get him back. — The Mirror.