England Under-21 manager Aidy Boothroyd has expressed fear that many of the top young England players who are uncapped at senior level would be poached by Nigeria ahead of next year’s World Cup in Russia.
Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham, Liverpool’s Dominic Solanke and Sheyi Ojo, Everton’s Ademola Lookman and Tottenham’s Josh Onomah are all eligible to play for Nigeria despite representing England at various age groups
Tthe Nigerian authorities are understood to have made an approach for Ojo in 2016.
Last month, there were reports Abraham has agreed to switch international allegiance to Nigeria after the forward was pictured with Nigeria Football Federation boss, Amaju Pinnick. The 20-year-old quickly denied the reports and reiterated his allegiance to England.
Arsenal forward Alex Iwobi represented England at youth level but committed to the Super Eagles in 2015. He scored on Saturday to hand Nigeria a 1-0 win over Zambia, which booked Gernot Rohr’s side a place in Russia 2018.
Boothroyd believes the Nigerian authorities, inspired by the success story of the 21-year-old who was born in Lagos, could persuade other England players to commit to Nigeria.
“Yeah, and they still might be trying – you don’t know – but you can’t blame them because they’re good players,” he said. “These are lads who have played for England who have an affinity with us and a relationship. When it happens with Sheyi I can pick the phone up, the same with Tammy.
“It’s a hard one. I can’t guarantee they are going to play because the group is so good. Tammy didn’t start the game before last but that’s just one of those things. Perhaps other countries will see that and get into him, promise him the world and get him in the first team.
“It’s an interesting one (with Abraham). I saw like you all did on the TV. The good thing is we have a relationship and I can pick the phone up and say ‘what’s going on mate?’
“He laughs and says he doesn’t know where it came from but it certainly didn’t come from him. Twenty minutes later it comes across in yellow again: ‘Tammy Abraham says he’s going to play for England’.”
Abraham could spearhead England against Scotland at the Riverside Stadium as they continue their Euro 2019 qualifying campaign after drawing in the Netherlands and beating Latvia in their opening two games.