Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel turned down a chance to return to the Super Eagles set up to instead focus on Middlesbrough’s bid for promotion from the EFL Championship.
The former Chelsea man has been recharging his batteries in order to give 100 percent in Boro’s drive to return to the Premier League, starting with their clash against league leaders Norwich City this coming weekend.
Hence he decided against the chance to play for Nigeria in their matches this past week, a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against the Seychelles and a friendly with North African giants Egypt.
The 31-year-old has not played for Nigeria since the 2018 World Cup in Russia, but remains part of manager Gernot Rohr’s plans as the German prepares his charges for the 2019 AFCON in June and July.
Rohr said: “He has so many games in Middlesbrough to look forward to, they are fighting for the play-offs too.
“He told me it is not the moment to return but if Obi Mikel is very fit again and has the motivation, then the door is open.
“I am not like Joachim Low who announced that three of his players are definitely out of the German national team, I never say that because you never know what can happen.
“We are watching and will see if he can come back. We also need experience in our team, we have so many young players.”