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Iheanacho's lack of game time a huge worry for Super Eagles

12:44 GMT+3 10/12/2021
Iwobi, Iheanacho
The goals have dried up for the Nigerian forward and his lack of game time comes at a crucial time for the Super Eagles

Kelechi Iheanacho’s impressive form in the first half of the year delivered 16 goals between February and May as he finished as the top scorer for Leicester City in the 2020/2021 season.

The 25-year-old then capped off a fantastic half-season by playing a key role as the Foxes won the FA Cup after beating Chelsea in May.

The 2015 U-17 World Cup winner then scored the goal that won the Community Shield only three months later against former club Manchester City.

However, that is as good as the second half of his year has got for Iheanacho, who has had to revert to his role as an impact substitute while Brendan Rodgers sought to stop a worrying run of form at Leicester by changing his system to a 4-2-3-1, in which there is no place for the 25-year-old.

A combination of Ashley Barnes’ return from long-term injury as well as James Maddison getting back into form has vindicated the manager's decision to go without the Nigerian.

Regardless, the current situation will worry Super Eagles fans who wish their striker to arrive at the 2021 Afcon full of confidence and with minutes under his belt.

The unfortunate injury to Victor Osimhen, who returned earlier this week ahead of schedule, has ramped up the attention on the other Nigerian strikers, but Iheanacho is unfortunately not scoring goals at the moment.

Rodgers explains Iheanacho’s recent lack of game time

It is hard to imagine that the Foxes’ top-scorer last season has managed only 54 minutes of football in their past six games in all competitions. In three of those outings, he had to continue to watch from the substitutes’ bench.

Speaking on the lack of minutes for the forward, Brendan Rodgers admitted that a change in tactics has not favoured the Nigerian.

“I think we’ve said it before: he’s best in a two, that’s clear, that’s when he’s been really good,” Rodgers said while explaining the situation.

“He’s training well, he’s a great professional, Kels, and he knows he’s going to feature over the course of this period at some point.”

In a nutshell, the player has not exactly dropped standards but is not just preferred in the current system.

A hectic fixture list in the coming weeks, though, could change his situation for the better.

Although the forward is showing a more creative side this season with his five assists set to break last season’s career-high seven, Nigeria fans are justifiably worried about his state of mind with just over a month to go to the start of the African continental finals.

Osimhen's return notwithstanding, ‘Senior man’ Kels could be one of the names the Super Eagles will be looking to in search of goals up front.

Now more than ever, it would delight Nigerian fans to see the Leicester forward reach peak form and hit full confidence ahead of the highly-anticipated continental showpiece in January.