'His ankle was considerably swollen' - Gent coach admits Gift Orban is doubtful for UECL openerPublished: September 20, 2023
KAA Gent manager Hein Vanhaezebrouck is sweating over the fitness of Gift Orban ahead of his side's UEFA Europa Conference League opener against Zorya Luhansk in Poland on Thursday evening.
Orban could not make his Super Eagles debut against São Tomé and Príncipe on September 10 after sustaining a minor injury in the penultimate training session before the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
He recovered in time to be named in Gent's starting lineup for their league game with Oud-Heverlee Leuven on Sunday but had to leave the pitch midway through the second half after suffering an injury.
Orban was named in Gent's 21-man squad that traveled to Lubin on Tuesday despite uncertainty over his availability.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference on Wednesday, Vanhaezebrouck provided an update on Orban's fitness .
In quotes relayed by Het Nieuwsblad, Vanhaezebrouck said: "Gift took a big hit on Sunday in Leuven, just outside the box. That violation was not even punished with a foul.
"Gift was able to continue playing after treatment, but his ankle was considerably swollen afterwards.
"The swelling has now gone down a bit, but the pain is still there. Gift will train a bit separately today but it doesn't look too rosy for tomorrow."
Vanhaezebrouck went on to explain that 2023 Nigeria's Olympic national team invitee Goodluck Igbokwe has climbed up the pecking order of attackers owing to the injury suffered by his compatriot, Orban.
"We have three strikers in our first team, so if one drops out you still have two and then you have to draw from the Jong Gent reservoir.
"Goodluck is currently the best striker at Jong Gent and then it makes sense that we take him with us."
Igbokwe, 21, has impressed for Jong Gent in the Eerste Nationale (equivalent of the third tier of Belgian football), scoring 14 goals in 34 matches since joining the club.
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