Ighalo ignores Nigeria talk to concentrate on Watford

By Oluwashina OkelejiBBC Sport
Odion Ighalo
Odion Ighalo

In-form Watford striker Odion Ighalo says he will not allow himself to be distracted by talk of an international call-up from Nigeria.

The 25-year-old is the English Championship's second top scorer with 17 goals and has scored 13 goals in 2015 alone - the highest in English football.

But Ighalo, who has represented Nigeria at Under-20 and U-23 levels, plans to concentrate solely on his club football and see where that takes him.

"Truth is I would love to play for my country, but at the moment all I want to do is play football for Watford," he told BBC Sport.

"It's my professional career and I have to keep working at it every day.

"I know if I keep playing well and training well, it will be communicated back to the selectors at home."

Nigeria is going through a period of soul-searching following the national team's failure to qualify for the recent Nations Cup in Equatorial Guinea.

As the Super Eagles prepare for their international friendly against Bolivia on 26 March in Uyo, the Nigerian media and fans have consistently called for the inclusion of Ighalo in the squad.

Despite scoring 13 goals in nine games in 2015, which makes him the top scorer in all four professional divisions in England in 2015, the striker wants to keep his feet on the ground.

"I just have to keep my head down and keep working because focussing on things like an international call-up could well shift my focus.

"Whatever anyone says, I only want to concentrate on myself. If I get a call up great, if not I will still concentrate on my football with Watford."

Born in Lagos, Ighalo joined Norwegian side Lyn Oslo in the summer of 2007 and a return of ten goals in 23 appearances led to a switch to Italian side Udinese in July 2008.

Apart from a loan spell with Cesena, he played the majority of his football in the past five years for Granada in Spain.

Ighalo helped the Spanish side achieve back-to-back promotions from the third-tier to La Liga between 2009 and 2011 by scoring in two play-off finals.

He initially moved to Watford who, like Udinese and Granada are owned by the Pozzo family, on a season-long loan in July 2014 but four months later agreed a permanent contract until the summer of 2017.