Super Eagles captain Mikel Obi is not yet ready for a return to the national team despite playing regularly for his English Championship side, Middlesbrough coach Gernot Rohr has revealed, Completesports.com reports.
Mikel is yet to feature for the Super Eagles since the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia fueling speculations he may have called time on his career at the international level.
Rohr assures that the former Chelsea and Tianjin TEDA star is still carrying a little injury on his knee and will only return when he is fully fit and well motivated to lead the team.
“Obi Mikel is playing well at Middlesbrough and he is doing well now, but there is still a little problem with his knee and it is not the moment for him to come back to the team in these conditions,” Rohr said during his pre-match conference ahead of the 2019 AFCON qualifier against Seychelles in Asaba.
“There are so many games for him to play for Middlesbrough. They are fighting for a promotional playoff spot. And he told me it’s not the right time to return. But if Obi Mikel is very fit and has the motivation, if he shows that he is better than the other people we have, the door is open
“I’m not like Joachim Low (the German coach) who announced that three players are out of the German national team because you never know what might happen. There could be injury or loss of form.
“We are watching what is happening and we hope he (Mikel) can come back one day because we need experience. We now have more young players than the last list.”
On the Super Eagles’ chances of winning the 2019 Africa Cup Of Nations in Egypt, Rohr says his side will remain humble as there are other teams who are top contenders for the title.
“I know my friend Herve Renard is a diplomat. His team are favorite to win the tournament because they are number one in Africa so he’s the natural favorite, but he tries to put other countries ahead. This is a tactic already so I say, Morocco is number 1 in Africa and they are favorites,” Rohr stated.
“Egypt with one of the biggest players in the world are favourites as well. They are also playing at home. Senegal and Tunisia and second and third. We (Nigeria) are No.4 and we have a chance though, but please let them speak while we stay humble.
“To declare that we will win the AFCON is stupid. We have to work, we have young players.”
By Johnny Edward.