From Omobolaji Oyegunle, London
After putting up a superlative performance for Arsenal over the weekend against Everton in the EPL, the Football Association is making a last-ditch bid to try to stop Arsenal starlet Alex lwobi committing his international future to Nigeria.
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 the three of Arsenal’s last four games and capped his full Premier League debut on Saturday with a man-of-match display and his first Gunners goal.
The forwad has already slipped through England’s fingers once, having played for Three Lion’s Under-16, U-17 and U-18 sides before choosing to represent Nigeria, the country of his birth.
Iwobi, nephew of former Super Eagles captain Jay Jay Okocha has played two friendlies for Nigeria but won’t be officially tied to them until he playes 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 African Cup of Nations qualifying double header against Egypt, who they host this Friday before the away return next Tuesday.
This has prompted desperate late attempts from the FA to try to get Iwobi to change his mind.
There is no suggestion lwobi 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 lwobi by giving the youngster a glowing reference.
He is understood to have told the FA that 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.