Rohr confirms Ndidi for Croatia, dumps Aina, Agu

Chelsea defender Ola Aina and Bursaspor midfielder Mikel Agu will not be going to the 2018 World Cup in Russia after Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr omitted them from his final 23-man squad for the tournament on Sunday.

Both players did not feature in the 2-1 defeat to England in a friendly affair in London on Saturday, meaning Rohr had decided to chop them from the squad before the encounter.

Seventeen of the 23 players picked by the German manager were in action at Wembley Stadium, with Mikel Obi, Kenneth Omeruo, Ogenyi Onazi and Ahmed Musa, who represented Nigeria at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, heading to Russia to appear at the finals for the second time.

Rohr kept faith with his goalkeeping trio Francis Uzoho, Daniel Akpeyi and Ikechukwu Ezenwa, naming them in the squad alongside Euro-born quartet Leon Balogun, William Troost-Ekong, Bryan Idowu and Tyronne Ebuehi.

Elderson Echiejile, who was knocked out of the Brazil 2014 World Cup by injury, Arsenal forward Alex Iwobi, FA Cup winner Victor Moses, Odion Ighalo, struggling Leicester forward Kelechi Iheanacho, Crotone’s goalscoring sensation Simeon Nwankwo and recuperating Leicester’s Young Player of the Year Wilfred Ndidi made the cut.

Rohr, who arrived in Austria with the squad on Sunday, said he had placed Aina and Agu on standby.

“They will be on standby. We go with 23 players to Austria; if there is another problem or injury like it happened four years ago when Elderson was injured, they will be on standby for that,” KweséESPN quoted the former Burkina Faso coach as saying.

Meanwhile, Rohr has confirmed that Ndidi, who sat out Saturday’s clash, would be on duty in the Super Eagles’ opening Group D World Cup fixture against Croatia in Kaliningrad on June 16.

A hamstring problem prevented the holding midfielder from the Foxes’ final three matches of the season but Rohr said the 21-year-old would start the team’s final pre-World Cup friendly against Czech Republic on Wednesday.

“We need him (Ndidi) but we had a protocol from Leicester and my friend Claude Puel, who gave me very good information with the medical team,” Leicestershire Live quoted the 64-year-old as saying on Sunday.

“We followed exactly the protocol the medical team at Leicester gave to us.

“We don’t think it was the moment for him to play but he will start the next game but I hope if he plays against Czech Republic, he will be fit and ready on June 16.”

Final squad

Goalkeepers: Uzoho (Deportivo La Coruna), Ezenwa (Enyimba), Akpeyi (Chippa United).

Defenders: Troost-Ekong and Abdullahi Shehu (Bursaspor), Ebuehi (Ado Den Haag), Echiejile (Cercle Brugge), Idowu (Amkar Perm), Chidozie Awaziem (Nantes), Leon Balogun (Brighton), Omeruo (Kasimpasa).

Midfielders: Mikel (Tianjin Teda), Onazi (Trabzonspor), Ndidi (Leicester), Oghenekaro Etebo (Las Palmas), John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva), Joel Obi (Torino).

Forwards: Musa (CSKA Moscow), Iheanacho (Leicester), Moses (Chelsea), Ighalo (Changchun Yatai), Iwobi (Arsenal), Nwankwo (Crotone).

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