The Nigerian Football Federation are convinced they will be able to call upon Liverpool midfielder Ovie Ejaria in the future.
Ejaria initially turned out for Nigeria at youth level, but has most recently played for the England U20s, joining Paul Williams’ squad for the October and November international breaks.
The 19-year-old has scored two goals for the Young Lions already, and looks to have a bright future for both club and country.
However, NFF president Amaju Pinnick has claimed he remains in contact with Ejaria, and believes he is still committed to playing for Nigeria in the future.
“What we are trying to do is what we call VIP scouting—talking to these young players that are playing abroad to play for their father land,” he explained, using Ejaria and Chelsea forward Tammy Abraham as examples.
“If you talk about Tammy Abraham, he is like my son, his father and I grew up in the same neighbourhood.
“So when they talk about him, I just laugh because I know what to do.
“As for Ovie Ejaria, I talk with his father often, he just called me recently. These are people we have met and they are all excited about Nigeria.
“I am yet to see a Nigerian that regrets being a Nigerian. Even if they have four or five passports, they are always excited to be Nigerians.
“I can assure you that we shall get them to play for us at the appropriate time.”
Ejaria’s appearances for England came as something of a surprise, given his previous comments on international allegiance.
“Though I was born in England, my parents are Nigerians,” he said in 2014, “so I have pledged my international future to Nigeria.”
If he does ultimately opt for Nigeria, Liverpool could face a long-term issue, similar to that with summer signing Sadio Mane, who has taken up a key role in the Senegal squad in recent years.
Mane is set to depart for the Africa Cup of Nations in January, with Jurgen Klopp forced to pursue reinforcement for his wide ranks in the winter transfer window.
Spartak Moscow winger Quincy Promes has emerged as a primary target, but the Russian Premier League side are looking for around £25 million for the Netherlands international.
Ejaria is yet to establish himself as a regular in Klopp’s first team, but made his debut for the senior side against Derby County in the League Cup in September.
Nigeria failed to qualify for the AFCON in 2017, meaning they miss their second consecutive tournament, but were triumphant in 2013, and possess a young squad with huge potential.