Nigeria battle England for Abraham and Ojo….

Tammy Abraham

England U21 boss Aidy Boothroyd admits he faces a fight to hang onto England young guns Tammy Abraham and Sheyi Ojo. Chelsea striker Abraham recently had to publicly reaffirm his commitment to the Three Lions after it was revealed he met the president of the Nigerian Football Federation, who is a friend of his father. The three-time African Champions are keen to persuade the pair to switch allegiance, which remains possible due to their family heritage. Both players can opt to represent the Super Eagles before they feature for England at senior level. Until then, Boothroyd expects the charm offensive towards the highly-rated Premier League duo to continue. Liverpool winger Ojo is out for three months with a dislocated shoulder suffered while on loan at Fulham. Abraham, who is spending the season at Swansea, hopes to lead the line as England Under-21s host Scotland in a Euro 2019 qualifier at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium.

Boothroyd is confident the relationship he has built up with the players will help ensure they choose to remain with the country of their birth, and the manager said: “It’s an interesting one with Tammy and I saw those reports. “The good thing is we have a relationship and I can pick the phone up and say, ‘What’s going on mate? Do I have to get a Nigerian passport and come and be your coach so you can stay with us?’. “Nigeria are trying to get as many players as they can and you can’t blame them as we have got some good players.” Stamford Bridge product Abraham, 20, has scored three times in nine England Under-21 appearances, and Boothroyd added: “Nigeria still might be trying (to persuade the two players). “You can understand why although these are lads who have played for England who have an affinity with us and a relationship. When it happens with Sheyi I can pick the phone up, the same with Tammy. “It’s hard, as I can’t guarantee they are going to play because the group is so good. Perhaps other countries will see that and get into them and promise them the world.” England are joint top of group four with Ukraine after a 1-1 draw in the Netherlands and a 3-0 win over Latvia. New York City midfielder Jack Harrison is set to figure, but the 20-year-old from Stoke-on-Trent could have to wait until Tuesday’s trip to Andorra to make his debut. The former Manchester United trainee paid his own £1,200 air fare after missing his original flight due to being stuck in traffic on the way to JFK airport. Boothroyd added: “He’s spent most of his time here asleep but that may be just a ploy to avoid my meetings. “He’s trained well and fitted in with the group. I can’t say which game but I’m sure he’ll get a cap. “It’s always an intriguing fixture against Scotland. Naturally, they will want to beat us and as a passionate Englishman I’m really looking forward to the match.”

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