Peseiro explains why Aribo, Ndidi, Onyeka got invites despite falling out of favour at EPL clubsPublished: March 21, 2023
Nigeria manager Jose Peseiro has defended his decision to hand call-ups to Leicester City star Wilfred Ndidi, Southampton midfielder Joe Aribo and Brentford ace Frank Onyeka for the national team's Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Guinea-Bissau.
The Portuguese has named an all-Premier League midfield in his 23-man squad list, with Everton's Alex Iwobi the only player enjoying a regular run of games.
Aribo has not been able to force his way into the Southampton squad after recovering from a minor injury, logging only 37 minutes off the bench since the start of 2023.
Also, some eyebrows were raised with the invitation of Onyeka as the former FC Midtjylland man has been on the pitch for only 61 minutes since the conclusion of the 2022 World Cup after recovering from a hamstring injury.
Ndidi has been in and out of the Leicester City squad either through injury or manager's choice, starting only four of the last ten Premier League matches played by the Foxes - something that was unthinkable few seasons ago.
Peseiro spoke briefly with the media shortly after training ended on Monday and one of the questions he was asked was to explain why call-ups were handed to Ndidi, Onyeka and Aribo despite struggling for game time at their clubs.
He told reporters including allnigeriasoccer.com : "I understand the question. Many people asked why some players come and don't play. I want to build a team.
"For me, I prefer to choose the best players . The others play more times but for me the best players are the best players.
"In their teams they don't give them chances to play, it's my obligation, it's my goal, it's my responsibility to call them because I believe in them. If I see a better midfielder, I don't call them.
"If he's injured, it's different, they work well because I stay in contact every time with them. I ask the coaches and they say they work well, are fit and have a good performance, but they chose other players .
"They inform me the players don't have injuries and are fit. Our job is not easy because you need to choose not the same players but ninety percent the same players to improve our dynamics, improve our organization and build our spirit"
Aribo, Ndidi and Iwobi started Nigeria's last game against Portugal back in November, while Onyeka came off the bench to replace the Leicester City midfielder at halftime.
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