SUPER Eagles centreback Leon Balogun will miss Brighton’s opening match against Watford on Saturday after new manager Graham Potter decided to give him an extended break due to his participation in this summer’s African Cup of Nations.
Balogun, 31, was part of the Nigerian team that came third in the recently concluded Egypt 2019, where the Super Eagles picked up a bronze medal. As a result, Mr Potter gave him an extended break, leading to Balogun not training with the team when they met yesterday, which in turns rules him out for selection over the weekend.
Last season, Balogun made 10 appearances for the Seagulls, scoring once and during the forthcoming campaign will face stiff competition as he seeks to dislodge the first choice centreback pairing of Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy. Balogun’s future at the club is up in the air following his limited opportunities last season and the addition of central defender Matt Clarke from Portsmouth this season.
Super Eagles head coach, Gernot Rohr has urged Balogun to seek a move away from the Amex stadium in a bid to play regularly. As a result of Balogun’s inaction last season, he was match rusty, which led to him making limited appearances during the Nations Cup, with Kenneth Omeruo and William Ekong becoming Mr Rohr’s preferred central defensive partnership.
Mr Rohr said: “Balogun didn’t play this year at Brighton and people didn’t understand why he didn’t play. He was not at the rhythm of the competition for a central defender and the only way for him to get back to his best is to play regularly and he must show at the club what he still has his qualities.”