Super Eagles head coach, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi has reacted swiftly to the call by former national team skipper, Austin 'Jay Jay' Okocha, that Chelsea star, John Mikel Obi be recalled to the national team, insisting that there was never a time the player was out of the national team.
Speaking through the team's Media Officer Ben Alaiya yesterday, Keshi explained that the fact that Mikel was left out in recent matches involving the national team does not mean he is no longer part of the team.
"We may have played some games without Mikel but he has always been part of the team and I must tell Nigerians that I have been in touch with the player. On the day of the Nations Cup draws in South Africa, I and Mikel spoke for over 40 minutes on various aspects of football and I was impressed with his patriotism for Nigeria and the success of the national team. We must be careful not to bring division and hero worship into the national team. Mikel has said again and again that he has no problems with the national team technical crew and I don't have any problems with him either, so calling for his recall to the team is unnecessary, because he has always been a part of the team", Keshi who spoke from Benin City said.
The Eagles boss warned that such calls will mean that the other European based professionals who were not invited for the June games against Namibia, Malawi and Rwanda were not important in the national team, which he said is far from the truth.
"We have a lot of players who were not part of the last games like Obafemi Martins, Obinna Nsofor, Ogbuke Obasi, Emmanuel Emenike and more. These players are as important and very good to our ambition of building a strong national team for Nigeria and I have been in touch with all of them, so we must avoid division in the national and respect the decision of the coach.
Keshi concluded by saying that no matter the amount of pressure, he would make it a point of duty to invite only the players needed for particular games and if Mikel is relevant he would surely be called up.