Nigeria midfielder Reuben Gabriel relieved to be fit again

By Oluwashina OkelejiBBC Sport, Lagos
Gabriel Reuben

Nigeria midfielder Reuben Gabriel has spoken of his frustration at being forced to sit out three months of football.

The 22-year-old has now been cleared to return to full training with Scottish Premiership side Kilmarnock after recovering from groin surgery.

"The most annoying thing has been watching the national team games and team-mates in Scotland," Gabriel told BBC Sport.

"I was desperate to be out there, but there's nothing I could do, I just had to focus on full recovery for almost three months."

The former Kano Pillars midfielder was a member of the Super Eagles squad that won the Africa Cup of Nations in February but he was prevented from playing after being struck down by chicken pox.

However, two months after the team's success in South Africa, Gabriel joined Kilmarnock alongside compatriot Papa Idris.

"It's a shame I've not been able to show the club and fans what I'm capable of doing," he said.

"I couldn't sit for five minutes without thinking about football, so it's been frustrating but I'm glad all that is over now.

"I got the green light to resume training last week and it felt good in the end. I met the new manager and he's been very encouraging.

"Hopeful that all goes well, with the possibility of playing again in two or three weeks."

Last year Gabriel was man-of-the-match in Nigeria's qualifiers against Malawi and Rwanda respectively.

His goal in Blantyre secured a 1-1 draw for the Super Eagles against Malawi in the 2014 World Cup qualifier.

News of his recovery has therefore come as a welcome boost for the African Champions.

"I can't fully break down what Gabriel brings to the team in a sentence, he is a very disciplined midfielder and humble player. I'm excited that he's returned to training with his club," coach Stephen Keshi told BBC Sport.

"We have missed him in the team and I can only wish him a speedy comeback."

Nigeria will face South Africa in a friendly in Durban on Wednesday before hosting Malawi in a crucial World Cup qualifier next month in Calabar.

Gabriel insists he is not in a hurry to rush back to action with the national side.

"In my head I want to start playing right away to help the team but realistically I need to get back to action at club level," he added.

"I find sincere consolation in the coach's comments and know that God's time is always the best.

"I will come back to give my best to the national team and hopefully help the country qualify for the World Cup in Brazil."

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