SUPER Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr has revealed that the door is not shut on centreback Leon Balogun despite the defender suffering a loss of form lately that has resulted in him joining English Championship side Wigan Athletic in search of playing time.
Balogun, 30, was a mainstay of the Super Eagles defence up until about two years ago but this season, he has had a torrid time, barely getting any playing time with his English Premier League clubside Brighton. As a result, during the transfer window, he moved to Wigan, where he is getting games, featuring in the club’s 3-0 victory over Reading just yesterday.
With the African Nations Cup qualifiers due to resume in March, Mr Rohr will soon be publishing the list of players he is inviting to camp for a double header against Sierra Leone. Revealing that no one has been totally ruled out permanently, Mr Rohr said that at no time did he close the doors on Balogun.
Since the last African Nations Cup in the summer of 2019, Balogun has not been called up for the Super Eagles. Even at that tournament, he was relegated to the role of third choice central defender behind the duo of Kenneth Omeruo and William Troost-Ekong but he has fallen further down the pecking order now with the emergence of West Bromwich Alboin’s Semi Ajayi.
Mr Rohr said: “Balogun is a part of the group but he wasn’t playing due to injury and other issues at his former club. He is back playing now and that has made us happy.
“We’ll always call up players who are regulars and he is getting games at Wigan. He has valuable experience that the team will need and his return to playing games means we now have competition in the area he is playing and it’s good for the team.”
At Wigan, Balogun has rediscovered his form, where he has formed a formidable partnership in the heart of the defence with Ivorian Cedric Kipre. Currently on loan with Wigan, Balogun will be looking for a new club at the end of the season if the Championship side does not purchase him, as his two year contract will have run out.