Boro to battle Nigeria
By Graeme Bailey
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Steve McClaren is facing a showdown with Nigeria over Yakubu Aiyegbeni.Middlesbrough manager Steve McClaren is facing a showdown with Nigeria over Yakubu Aiyegbeni.
The Super Eagles have named an incredible 49-strong squad for a training party they are planning to hold in the build up to the African Cup of nations in January.
Nigeria want to train in Portugal ahead of the tournament in Egypt - and that could mean that any English-based players such as Yakubu, Nwankwo Kanu, Joseph Yobo, Jay-Jay Okocha, Seyi Olofinjana and George Abbey missing up to 17 games.
Understandably McClaren is less than amused at the thought of losing his top-scorer for more than the necessary time.
Yakubu was scheduled to miss just six Premiership games and McClaren looks unlikely to let Nigeria have his player until he is required to let him go.
Fifa rules state that Boro must release Yakubu two weeks before the start of the tournament.
"He's been called up and it's under discussion," said McClaren.
"Will there be some arm twisting? We'll have to see about that. Does he want to go? You'd have to ask Yak."
One Premiership manager who will be relieved at the latest squad announcement is Graeme Souness - after Celestine Babayaro was omitted by coach Austin Eguavoen.
Other names of interest in the squad are John Obi Mikel - who will be joining either Chelsea or Manchester United next year - and PSV Eindhoven's Michael Lamey, who is given the chance to earn his first full cap.
Squad in full: Dele Aiyenugba, Nojim Raji, Odey Ogar, David Tyavkase, Joseph Akpala, Daddy Bazuaye, Nasiru Salihu, Andy Ogwuche, Mike Ochei, Victor Ezeji, Onyekachi Apam, Kelechi Osunwa, Isaac Promise, Temile Omonigho, Paul Obiefule, John Owoeri, Robert Akaruye, Julius Aghahowa, Obafemi Martins, Ayodele Makinwa, Christian Obodo, Nwankwo Kanu, John Obi Mikel, Jay-Jay Okocha, Wilson Oruma, Chinedu Ogbuke, John Utaka, Osaze Odemwingie, Garba Lawal, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Sani Kaita, Yusuf Ayila, Seyi Olofinjana, Ifeanyi Udeze, Taye Taiwo, Isaac Okoronkwo, Joseph Enakarhire, Ifeanyi Emeghara, Obinna Nwaneri, Joseph Yobo, George Abbey, Michael Lamey, Chidi Odiah, Rotimi Sunday, Greg Etafia, Austin Ejide, Vincent Enyeama, Emmanuel Okoduwa, Obinna Nsofor