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Ebere Eze at the heart of Nigeria's dual citizen debate

Queens Park Rangers' Eberechi Eze, who some consider Nigeria's great attacking midfield hope, is one step away from being lost to the Super Eagles.

The midfielder has been called up by the England under-20 selectors, and is expected to make his cadet bow in two friendlies this week.

If that happens, it will mean a significantly more convoluted route to navigate if the Greenwich-born 20-year-old is to suit up in green and white.

Not unexpectedly, this has led to a bit of friction between the Nigeria Football Federation hierarchy and Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr, who called Eze into a training camp last year but did not hand him a debut, thus leaving him unbound to Nigeria.

Eze was one of a number of British-born players, along with Ola Aina, who were invited to scrimmage with the Nigeria national team in London. The expectations were that these players would gradually be integrated into the Super Eagles set up.

Eze's efforts were particularly eye-catching. His technique, skills, passing, and movement drew favourable comparison with the legend Austin Okocha, and NFF sources tell KweséESPN that Rohr had pencilled the then-teenager down as a potential replacement for captain John Obi Mikel.

Since that kickabout over a year ago, Eze appears to have fallen off the Nigeria national team radar. His contemporary Aina has become a fully-fledged international and only missed the World Cup party by a whisker.

In that time, however, Eze has grown from strength to strength at QPR, operating from a free midfield role that allows him the liberty of dropping his little technical bombs from all over the park. That unshackled rein has yielded three goals already this Championship season and made him a favourite with the Rangers fans.

That form has led to this call up by England, and could ultimately be the reason for Nigeria's loss. But that ominous prospect is still a long way out as he is nowhere close to the senior England set up.

So could he still be in Nigeria's plans? "Yes," Rohr told KweséESPN, before admitting that the road is now just that little bit tougher: "But it will be a long process before authorisation for him to play for us."

But a source within the federation preached sympathy for the coach, explaining that with so many foreign-born options available to select from, not to mention a plethora of home-grown talent also making their cases, it is a 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' situation for the coach.

"He can't take every player born abroad. If he embarks on doing that, people will still moan and call it a team of second-divisioners and that he is leaving local boys out. There's never a perfect fix to the issue," the source said.

"Ebere is playing well. Good luck to him with England. There are many others that are being touted. Danjuma. Billing. There's so many. Yet when [Rohr] leaves even one of the old guard out of the list, heavens will almost fall."

It is about finding the balance between which of these dual citizens to pick and which to leave out. For now, Ebere is one that needs chasing while the door is still open.

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