The Nigeria international has been out of action for three months and is not expected back to competitiveness any time soon
Queens Park Rangers defender Leon Balogun is in danger of missing the Super Eagles’ crunch double-header Africa Cup of Nations qualifying games against Guinea Bissau in March.
Balogun has not been seen on a football pitch since featuring for 45 minutes in QPR’s 1-2 home loss to Huddersfield on November 8.
Before suffering the injury that has sidelined him for three months, the 34-year-old was excellent for the Hoops making 11 league appearances and scoring once – in a dramatic 2-1 triumph over Wigan back in October.
The injury has reduced Balogun’s impact for club and country in recent times, with the former Glasgow Rangers star not in the plans of Nigeria’s head coach Jose Peseiro towards the end of 2022.
Peseiro led the Super Eagles to friendly meetings with Algeria in October and Portugal in November – Nigeria lost both games – without Balogun being available.
The last time Balogun played for Nigeria was as a second-half substitute during the Super Eagles’ historic 10-0 victory over Sao Tome and Principe in an Afcon qualifier in June.
Balogun, available in March?
Next month, attention will shift back to the continental qualifying series with Nigeria facing Guinea Bissau in back-to-back matches in Abuja (March 20) and Bissau (March 27).
Once again, it appears coach Peseiro will not be able to count on Balogun for the March fixtures after Queens Park Rangers’ manager Neil Critchley reportedly said the Nigerian defender is still ‘a few weeks’ from returning to action.
Balogun joined the Rs in August on a free transfer signing for a year.
The ex-Mainz man’s contract expires in the summer and despite his positive contributions, it is claimed that Rangers could release him.
With age no longer on Balogun’s side, it is expected that the defender’s influence in the Super Eagles will keep waning until he retires.
Nigeria’s coach Peseiro may have, however, found a long-term replacement for Leon Balogun.
The Portuguese tactician invited Boavista’s center-back Bruno Onyemaechi for Nigeria’s clash against Portugal last year.
And the 23-year-old could earn another invitation in the likely absence of Balogun.