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Sanchez Flores will back Odion Ighalo if Nigeria striker harbours Rio Olympics dream

Quique Sanchez Flores says he will give his blessing for Odion Ighalo to play at the Rio Olympics if the player decides he wants to represent Nigeria and miss the start of the Premier League season.

The Nigeria coach Samson Siasia intimated this week he is earmarking Watford’s top-scorer to lead his attack at the 16-team tournament between August 3 and August 20.  The Premier League season starts on Saturday, August 13 so depending on the progress of the Super Eagles, Ighalo could miss at least two games as well as the all-important pre-season camp and the friendly programme.

Ighalo in pre-season training. Picture by Franziska Empl
Ighalo in pre-season training. Picture by Franziska Empl

“It depends on the players,” said Sanchez Flores. “Some players want to go, others want to rest. It depends. If the player makes the decision he wants to stay, perfect. If he wants to go, I am happy.”

Isaac Success, the 20-year-old Granada forward bound for Watford in the summer, has played four times for Nigeria’s Under-20 side. He is almost certain to be selected by his country for the U23 tournament in Rio which permits teams to select three over-age players.

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There is also an outside chance Adlene Guedioura and Joel Ekstrand could be called up by Algeria and Sweden, respectively.

Sanchez Flores was also asked by the broadcast media this morning about yet more speculation surrounding the future of Ighalo. He has, this week, been linked with a £20m move to Arsenal, an £8m increase on the last rumour.

“The speculation is very normal,” said Sanchez Flores who, for the first time, looked a bit weary about having to field questions on his 15-goal striker. “He is one of the best strikers in the league. There is always rumour around Ighalo.

“I love the speculation for all the players because it means everything is good, the performance of the team is good and if everyone wants the players of Watford it means we are doing something well. It’s always positive when other teams want Watford players.”