Nigeria international Ola Aina made the headlines on Sunday after scoring the first goal in Nottingham Forest’s 2-0 win over Aston Villa but of more concern to Super Eagles head coach will be the return of Taiwo Awoniyi following a spell on the sidelines, The PUNCH reports.
Nigeria face Lesotho and Zimbabwe in the upcoming 2026 World Cup qualifying matches later this month and the Portuguese tactician will be delighted to have Awoniyi for the game with uncertainty surrounding the availability of Napoli striker Victor Osimhen.
Awoniyi had last month withdrawn from the Nigeria squad for their international friendlies with Saudi Arabia and Mozambique after suffering a groin injury.
The striker made his comeback from a groin problem at Anfield last weekend. Though he was not fit enough to start he did come off the bench in the Reds’ 3-0 defeat to Liverpool.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference, Forest boss Steve Cooper suggested that the Eagles striker was in a complex situation with a niggling groin strain and his availability for the Aston Villa game was uncertain.
“Taiwo is a player we have to manage. He’s in a bit of a complex situation with his injury. It’s an ongoing one, and it will be for a little while,” Cooper said.
“It’s frustrating, for him more than anyone else. He was doing so well and this has really held him back.
“It’s not been as simple as he’s back training and he’s fully fit. It’s something that is going to be a managing process for a little bit of time now.
“We’ll see if he is available for the weekend. We hope he is, but it could go either way.”
He added, “I am not sure that he will need surgery down the line, but it is not a straightforward injury, it has also aggravated an injury he had last year. He can have indifferent days (with the injury) and it is an annoying one for him.
“It is something we will have to take day-by-day. He has good support around him, in terms of the medical staff we have, and hopefully, he will be able to play more often than not.
“The question of international duty is a conversation for next week. At the moment we are just focusing on what we might be able to get out of him this weekend.”
It however came as a big surprise after the Nigerian striker was handed a starting spot in the team’s 2-0 win on Sunday.
Awoniyi played for 82 minutes before he was replaced with Danilo and Peseiro will be buoyed by the number of minutes played by the striker ahead of their World Cup qualifiers fixtures.