Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr has suggested that Chelsea coach Antonio Conte is punishing the midfielder for choosing to play for the Nigerian U-23 team at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
“I cannot punish a player who loves his country and shows that he loves the Green jersey. I spoke about this with Mikel and the club’s technical director (Michael Emenalo). Mikel is training very well and he plays games in training with the big players at Chelsea.
There is a reason why Mikel is not playing for Chelsea right now and that reason is because he played for Nigeria at the (2016) Olympics. “He was punished for that,”
The Super Eagles coach then said Mikel will play a big role in the game against Algeria on Saturday saying:
“He (Mikel) is here with us and he is fit and I hope he can play for 90 minutes against Algeria but if it is not possible, we shall see. He is a big player so if he tells me on Saturday he can play for 90 minutes, great but if he says he cannot, then I will also listen to him.
“I have big confidence in him and if he says ‘it is okay’, then it is okay but when he says ‘it is not okay’ then it is not and I will listen to him,”