England face tug-of-war with Nigeria over international futures of Liverpool trio

6 October 2017

England U21s manager Aidy Boothroyd has admitted there is a chance Liverpool winger Sheyi Ojo could commit his international future to Nigeria.


Ojo earned his first call-up to Boothroyd’s squad for the September international break, and was also included for this month’s clashes with Scotland and Andorra.

The 20-year-old was forced to pull out due to a dislocated shoulder, but his absence could be prolonged if the Nigeria Football Federation have their way.

Speaking to reporters ahead of Friday night’s Euro U21 qualifier against Scotland in Middlesbrough, Boothroyd discussed the possibility of Ojo and Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham committing to the Super Eagles.

Abraham is said to be likely to remain with England, but according to the Telegraph, “Ojo’s future is uncertain.”

“Nigeria are trying to get as many players as they can and you can’t blame them because we’ve got some good players,” Boothroyd explained.

“There was talk about Tammy, while Sheyi Ojo is another and they might still be trying [to make him represent Nigeria at senior level].

“You just don’t know. It’s a hard one because I can’t guarantee they are going to play because the group is so good.

“Tammy didn’t start the game before last and that’s just one of those things.

“Perhaps other countries might see that and try and get into him, promise him the world and get him in the first-team before you know it.

“But these are lads that have played for England and have an affinity with us and a relationship.

“There is a pathway and I can always pick the phone up and speak to them.”

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 23, 2017: Liverpool's Dominic Solanke looks dejected after missing a chance during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Meanwhile, both Dominic Solanke and Ovie Ejaria are also eligible to play for Nigeria, as an ongoing struggle for allegiance rumbles on.

Ejaria was initially part of the NFF’s youth setup, but has since made seven appearances for the England U20s, including at the U20 World Cup in South Korea over the summer.

The 19-year-old is yet to feature for the Liverpool first team this season, instead turning out for the U23s, ensuring he is no closer to securing a regular role for England.

As a result, it could be that Ejaria would be more open to opting for Nigeria, and a clearer pathway, in the future.

Solanke has been a key fixture for England youth sides in recent years, even alongside Ejaria and Ojo at the U20 World Cup despite having barely featured for Chelsea last season.

He won the Golden Ball at that tournament, and has since made the step up to Boothroyd’s squad where he will vie with Abraham and Dominic Calvert-Lewin for a starting role.

While it seems likely Solanke will remain committed to England, there is still a looming threat that any of Liverpool’s three eligible youngsters could instead pledge for Nigeria.

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