By Amosu Adeboye, LAGOS
Super Eagles captain John Obi Mikel has not been recalled for Seychelles and Egypt games, with striker Kelechi Iheanacho dropped from the squad to proseecute the fixtures.
On Monday, a 23-man list for the final 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifying game against Seychelles and Egypt friendly on March 22 and 26 respectively was released.
Despite his resurgence in the English Championship with Middlesbrough, Mikel has not made the list, his last involvement with the national team dating back to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Alongside the underperforming Iheanacho, Villareal youngster Samuel Chukwueze, Brian Idowu, Olamilekan Adeleye and Isaac Success were dropped from the team while striker Paul Onuachu – a regular performer in Denmark with FC Midtjylland – has earned a maiden call-up and will be expected to provide competition for returning Odion Ighalo and Victor Osimhen.
Nigeria U20 vice-captain Valentine Ozornwafor has also been handed a first senior invite.
Leicester midfielder Wilfried Ndidi makes a return to the side after he was suspended for the decisive South Africa game, taking Mikel Agu’s spot.
Bursaspor utility player Shehu Abdullahi, who scored his first goal of the season at the weekend, returned after injury ruled him out of the last engagements.
Also back in the national team fold is first-choice goalkeeper Francis Uzoho, with Daniel Akpeyi and Ikechukwu Ezenwa completing the shot-stopping trio.
Nigeria have already qualified for the 2019 Afcon scheduled for Egypt in June after finishing top of their group and start preparation with a clash against the Pharaohs four days after they take on minnows Seychelles.
The list in full:
Goalkeepers: Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Daniel Akpeyi, Francis Uzoho
Defenders: William Troost-Ekong, Leon Balogun, Kenneth Omeruo, Ola Aina, Chidozie Awaziem, Jamilu Collins, Valentine Ozornwafor
Midfielders: John Ogu, Wilfred Ndidi, Oghenekaro Etebo, Semi Ajayi
Forwards: Ahmed Musa, Odion Ighalo, Moses Simon, Alex Iwobi, Victor Osimhen, Paul Onuachu, Henry Onyekuru, Samuel Kalu