Chelsea midfielder and Super Eagles’ captain, John Obi Mikel says he has asked his Chelsea teammate Ola Aina, to consider departing England Under-20 teams to represent the country of his parents’ birth.
Mikel made the call after the teenager impressed in pre-season and made his Chelsea debut against Bristol Rovers.
The 19-year-old defender has sat on the bench many times this season after signing a new deal in the summer, and currently plays his international football in the England youth ranks.
Aina was born in London to Nigerian parents and Mikel said he rates his team-mate so highly that he would love to play alongside him in the Nigerian national team.
“I keep asking him: ‘When are you going to come and play for Nigeria?’ and he jokes: ‘Whenever you come and invite me I will play!” Mikel told Goal, adding that “I think it is something that we would have to discuss.
“If he wants to play, we would have to speak to the federation and make sure that he really wants to play for Nigeria. If he is ready, we can talk about, but in the few times we have talked about it, he hasn’t given me a very positive, decisive answer to take back to the FA.
“I need a positive answer for me to take the case forward to the FA. We will see what happens.”
During Chelsea’s pre-season tour of Austria and the United States, the young full-back made three starts and several substitute appearances to force his way into manager Antonio Conte’s plans.
“Aina is a very, very good player.
“He has improved quite a lot after playing in a few friendly games and he played really, really well.
“I was quite impressed by his performances and it is only a matter of time before these kids break into the first team.”
Mikel is expected to lead the charge against Zambia in Nigeria’s quest to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia after missing out on the Africa Cup of Nations, which will be played out this winter.