CRYSTAL Palace playmaker Ebere Eze has once more been placed in a difficult situation regarding his international future after he was only called up to the England U21 squad rather than the senior squad.
Ebere, 22, has been the subject of a tug of war between Nigeria and England, with both nations desperately fighting for the services of the mercurial; playmaker. Having already played for the England U21 team competitively, Ebere will need to undergo a switch through Fifa before he is eligible to feature for Nigeria’s Super Eagles.
It appears that Ebere may be holding out for a senior England call-up and if manager Gareth Southgate caps him, that would end the matter. Already, the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) president Amaju Pinnick has met with Ebere in London and Super Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr is waiting for Fifa clearance before he can invite the player to camp.
On November 13, the Super Eagles face the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone in an African Nations Cup qualifier at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, in Benin City and face them in the return leg three days later. Had Ebere secured Fifa clearance, he would most likely have featured in at least one of the games.
However, he is not making progress with either England or Nigeria as he has only been invited for the two Uefa European U21 Championship qualifying fixtures against Andorra and Albania next week. Prior to this invitation, he has one cap for the England U21 team, featuring in a victory over Turkey at Wolverhampton Wanderers ground when he came on a substitute.
Aidy Boothroyd, the England U21 manager, said: “We have competition for places, which is a good thing for any coach and that means the level of training goes up that little bit more, the attitude on the pitch goes up a couple of per cent and it shows you’ve got a really strong environment. When you’ve got players as good as we have got and players who are fit, on form and playing then there’s every opportunity for them.”
With a lack of senior international attention from England, Ebere might finally decide to take up the NFF offer. Many Crystal Palace fans are hoping their manager Roy Hodgson will allow Eze to have a little bit of attacking freedom, allowing him to operate as a creative playmaker with a free role.