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Victor Osimhen to play for Nigeria at nation’s cup

Nigeria’s footballl coach Austin Eguavoen has included Victor Osimhen in the country’s squad for next month´s Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon after making a quicker than expected recovery from injury.

He features in a 28-man squad named on Saturday by coach Eguavoen, who has taken over from Gernot Rohr after the German was sacked last month just weeks from the tournament.

Napoli´s Osimhen suffered facial fractures after a clash of heads with Inter Milan´s Milan Skriniar on Nov. 21 and required titanium plates and screws fixed to his cheekbone and eye socket.

His club said he would be out for three months but the forward returned to training on Tuesday wearing a protective mask, giving him a chance of making the tournament.

Nigeria have been drawn in Group D along with Egypt, Guinea-Bissau and Sudan. They play their first game against Egypt in Garoua on Jan. 11

Osimhen was in a good run of form prior to his injury, with nine goals and two assists for Napoli as well as four goals for Nigeria in World Cup qualifying, but his call-up is likely to set him at odds with his club.

“I will be available for AFCON unless if (I) am not among the players picked to represent NIGERIA,” Osimhen tweeted this week.

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Nigeria also included Ahmed Musa and Kenneth Omeruo, who were both in their squad when they won the Cup of Nations in 2013.

The Nigerian Football Federation said on Saturday that all players would assemble in Lagos on Dec. 29, except those based at clubs in England and Scotland, who would be expected on Jan. 3.

That is a concession to their clubs because FIFA rules state countries are entitled to their players a fortnight before their first game at a major tournament.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs), John Noble (Enyimba), Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam), Francis Uzoho (Omonia Nicosia)

Defenders: Olaoluwa Aina (Torino), Chidozie Awaziem (Alanyaspor), Leon Balogun (Glasgow Rangers), Jamilu Collins (Paderborn), Olisa Ndah (Orlando Pirates), Kenneth Omeruo (Leganes), Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto), Abdullahi Shehu (Omonia Nicosia), William Troost Ekong (Watford)

Midfielders: Joseph Ayodele-Aribo (Glasgow Rangers), Chidera Ejuke (CSKA Moscow), Alex Iwobi (Everton), Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City), Kelechi Nwakali (Huesca), Frank Onyeka (Brentford)

Forwards: Taiwo Awoniyi (Union Berlin), Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal), Emmanuel Dennis (Watford), Odion Ighalo (Al Shabab), Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City), Ahmed Musa (Fatih Karagumruk), Victor Osimhen (Napoli), Moses Simon (Nantes), Sadiq Umar (Almeria). (Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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