Ahead of the AFCON 2023 qualifiers fixtures against Sierra Leone and Sao Tome and Principe, manager José Peseiro will be left worrying about key man Wilfred Ndidi.
Leicester City midfielder Wilfred Ndidi has had a huge drop on his game this season for both club and country.
His importance to the Nigeria national football team cannot be overstated but with him losing his spark, is it time for the Super Eagles to start looking for a replacement for the enigmatic midfielder?
We take a look at the latest topic surrounding Super Eagles News.
What has happened to Wilfred Ndidi?
Wilfred Ndidi came from Belgian Jupiler Pro League side KRC Genk to Leicester City in 2017 as a replacement for N'Golo Kante who moved to Chelsea the season before.
In the seasons that followed, the 26-year-old Super Eagles midfielder topped the stats leaderboard for most defensive midfield plays and attributes. Manchester United were hot on his tail as was Liverpool and a few other European clubs.
He remained at the King Power Stadium, however, and the ovation he once enjoyed has died down. He now looks a shadow of himself for both the Foxes and the Nigeria Super Eagles. His place at AFCON 2023 is guaranteed thanks to his exploits for the team but starting him now looks like the wrong move for all involved.
Injuries, poor form and unstable Leicester City has made Wilfred Ndidi a forgotten man.
A fresh start elsewhere next season would just be fine imo
— Uncle Wilson. (@iam_wilsons) April 25, 2023
Everything the former Ekosodin Stars FC player is currently dealing with started when he suffered a season ending injury in March of 2022. At that time, Brendan Rodgers was already looking lost in his role as the manager of the 2015/16 Premier League title winners and Ndidi, once the bastion of defensive midfield play in the team and one of the beacons of the role in the Premier League was already suffering.
Ndidi + Tielemans in that midfield worked so perfectly for 3 seasons. Ndidi was an absolute monster breaking up play, this man could take the ball off of anyone. pic.twitter.com/A2WyXi4xV7
— 𝙇𝘾𝙁𝘾 𝙎𝙋 (@LCFCshitposting) April 19, 2023
After his return, Rodgers was even more unsure about how to utilise his qualities, leading to a slump in form for the man once seen as the best defensive midfielder in England. Ndidi is now struggling from a lack of gametime and is also feeling the effects of the two long-term injuries he has had to deal with in the last two seasons.
This puts José Peseiro in a precarious position ahead of the remaining fixtures in the AFCON qualifiers 2023.
There is now an increased need for security in Ndidi's area of the pitch but it may be a big stretch to declare that the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) technical committee look for his replacement.
Should Ndidi be replaced in the Super Eagles squad?
Ndidi is only 26 years old. This means that he is only entering the peak of his career and if properly managed, can still play for a decade or more at the highest level.
Players tend to retire early from international football so this could be an opportunity to check out others who could slot into his role whenever he has a bad run of form like he currently does.
However, it will be counterintuitive to replace the Leicester City man at this stage of his career with the Nigeria national football team. He has amassed 50 caps in eight years at just 26 and this alone is a testament to how important he is.
While the match won't be available for NPFL fans in Nigeria and worldwide, fans can stay updated with the live scores.
This article was most recently revised and updated 10 months ago