Carlo Ancelotti will be vexing the international break amid claims Everton winger Alex Iwobi has tested positive for coronavirus while with the Nigeria national side.
That’s according to Complete Sports, who note that the forward will undergo a second test ahead of the Super Eagles’ 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier with Lesotho on Tuesday.
Iwobi is currently isolating and is expected to be re-tested on Monday, after being forced to miss his nation’s 1-0 win over Benin on Saturday having returned a positive result.
But the Super Eagles dispute the outcome of Iwobi’s positive test and allegedly will not accept the result until the second test is returned.
Nigeria have already qualified for the next edition of the Africa Cup of Nations, with Gernot Rohr’s side top of Group L on 11 points after going unbeaten over five games.
Benin sit second after Saturday’s defeat to the Super Eagles on seven points, while Lesotho are bottom and cannot progress.
Rohr had named Iwobi in his starting line-up for the AFCON qualifying tie with Benin, and he was replaced by Galatasaray’s former Everton attacker Henry Onyekuru.
Iwobi had not missed a single fixture for Nigeria in any competition since September 2018 when illness prevented his involvement in an AFCON qualifier with Seychelles, playing 1,828 of a possible 1,980 minutes over 22 games.
The 24-year-old will hope to return a negative test in time to face Lesotho on Tuesday for a chance at earning his 45th-cap and striking his 10th international goal or fourth assist.
Iwobi returning a second positive test and having to continue isolating will come as a blow for Everton, as boss Ancelotti begins preparing plans to face Crystal Palace at Goodison Park next Monday.
The Lagos-born attacker has been a regular aspect of Ancelotti’s side this season with 15 starts over 25 Premier League appearances from a possible 28, including opening each of the Toffees’ last three.
Ancelotti would surely be left vexing the international break should Iwobi now be unable to play a role at any stage at home to the Eagles, when he will hope to see Everton return to winning ways after defeats to Chelsea and Burnley.
The Blues now sit five points behind Thomas Tuchel’s Blues in the race for the final Champions League position, albeit with a game in hand, and trail West Ham by three points, Tottenham Hotspur by two points and Liverpool on goal difference.
Ancelotti would not be the first Premier League manager to be critical of the March international break, after Pep Guardiola joined Jurgen Klopp and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in voicing fears of players having to isolate upon their return.
“It makes no sense if the players go to the national team and then have to isolate for 10 days when they come back,” the Manchester City boss said, via quotes by BBC Sport, at the start of the month.
Ancelotti also noted that he would “prefer” to keep any player who may be impacted by Covid restrictions on Merseyside “if they have to quarantine”, and he could now find himself in that position with Iwobi.