The former England international has suggested some of the consequences of making the 31-year-old come back to the national team
John Fashanu has warned Nigeria national team coach Gernot Rohr not to bring back Odion Ighalo to the team, stating it could make the young strikers in the side ‘depressed’.
Ighalo called time on his international career after helping the Super Eagles finish third at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, where he emerged as the tournament’s top scorer.
Since his retirement, Nigeria have relied on Napoli’s Victor Osimhen, Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho and Genk’s Paul Onuachu, who have been in fine form for the West African side.
The Super Eagles recently booked their place at the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon and Fashanu has revealed reasons why Rohr should not attempt to lure Ighalo back to the side.
“Experience in football counts but we don’t want to do anything to upset the young boys or make them a little bit depressed,” Fashanu told the Punch.
“The only thing Ighalo has to offer to the national team is his experience, it is not his ability because there are players who are far better than him and we know that.
“If Rohr wants to bring him in because he stabilizes the squad, it is fine. I remember when I was in my 30s and the manager kept bringing me back, it wasn’t because I was a great player but I gave the team confidence. And that might also be the reason why Rohr wants to bring him back but other than that his time is gone.
“Ighalo is in his 30s and in Nigeria we have fantastic prospects that are fighting to get that spot but not all of them can make the squad.
“If you keep playing the older players it is at the detriment of the younger players. It is high time we start seeing 17, 18-year-old geniuses in the national team.
“Where there is no talent the coach may consider bringing him back but there are so many talents and it would be very wrong to bring him back at this stage.”
Rohr hinted recently of his desire to bring Ighalo back to the Super Eagles, stating the former Manchester United forward will bring experience to his young team.
“The answer is simple. The answer is when you look at the age of all the players that you speak about, they are all young, and also we need experience,” Rohr told Elegbete TV.
“And if, for example, Odion Ighalo will play with us – I don’t know if it’s possible for the moment, but perhaps if he’s coming back, I think players like Osimhen and even Kelechi Iheanacho could have a big help in the presence of Ighalo to learn, to progress, to see his professionalism.
“He’s a great professional, a big example for everybody, and he’s also a great goalscorer. We are very young, especially in the attack, and it could be good to have some more experience with us.”
Ighalo is currently playing for Saudi Professional League club Al Shabab since leaving Manchester United in February.