Stoke City manager Michael O’Neill has revealed that Super Eagles midfielder Oghenekaro Etebo has no chance with the first team this midweek but will only be allowed time with the U-23 side, a decision that has angered a section of the fan base.
Nigeria international Oghenekaro Etebo has been battling with fitness issues since being forced off the pitch after just 23 minutes against Sheffield Wednesday on the 22nd October.
The 24-year-old, who was a key component of the Super Eagles squad that finished in third place at the 2019 AFCON tournament in Egypt, missed Nigeria’s games against Benin and Lesotho in November due to the same injury.
However, the former Feirense midfielder returned to training two weeks ago and even made the substitute bench in a loss at Cardiff in late November but has not appeared in a matchday squad since.
The midfield workhorse was expected to be in line to make his much anticipated return on Tuesday when the Potters, in search of their first win in four games, host Luton Town.
But Stoke manager O’Neill has decided to gradually ease the all-action fans favourite back to top level football by featuring him in the club’s U23 side this week and not against Luton Town at the Bet365 Stadium.
That decision has drawn the ire of the Potters fans who have reacted in disbelief and shock at the Nigerian’s absence.
Michael O’Neill (MON) was quoted on Stoke’s official twitter account to have said:
“Cameron Carter-Vickers had to leave the squad due to illness and Badou is suffering from a virus. Peter Etebo will play for the Under-23s given the amount of time he has been out.”
Here are some of the fan response to O’Neill’s call on Etebo:
@John45804389: Another manager without a backbone. Etebo at 50% is better than Allan at 100%. Grow a pair and drop these non performers
@jamie_speed: The player with the most natural stamina needing an under 23s warm up game after being back in the squad for 2 weeks is farcical. Even a 50% fitness Etebo is still better than anything we have playing atm.
@RussellDutton: Absolutely unbelievable, he must be one of the fittest players in the squad even after a slight injury. Something odd happening there.
@george95349403: Absolute joke MON is really acting like he doesn’t have a clue , etebo is our best player and our fittest player it’s a joke.
just give etebo 45 mins against derby! he will probably have more of an impact in 45 mins than allan has had all season
— Matt (@scfc151) December 9, 2019