Ndidi backs Iheanacho to continue shining

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Wilfred Ndidi has backed Kelechi Iheanacho to continue shining in England.

This is after the striker was nominated for the Premier League Player of the Month award for the month of April.

Speaking to BBC Sport Africa, Ndidi says Iheanacho will continue to improve and put the two years of criticism firmly behind him.

Iheanacho, 24, was overlooked by Nigeria for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals after finding himself on the fringes at Leicester.

In recent months though, his fortunes have started to change as he scored seven times in four appearances for the Foxes to be named March’s Premier League Player of the Month and also signed a new deal to keep him at the club until 2024.

“Kelechi’s talent was never in doubt, but as it is in life people love to criticise others when they are down.

“He was unfairly criticised and judged by different people. This is someone I have known from our youth days at the U17s and I know his quality, so it’s not a fluke that he is producing his best football again.

“I am very happy for him because he’s doing wonderfully well now and everyone can see. It’s just sad that when he needed encouragement in the past few years many were quick to write him off, but thankfully some of these people have now turned around to praise him. That’s life.”

Among those who criticised the player was Nigeria national team coach Gernot Rohr who publicly questioned Iheanacho’s commitment and professionalism to the national team back in 2019.

The Franco-German has since had a change of heart following Iheanacho’s Man of the Match award against Manchester United in Leicester’s FA Cup quarter-final win last month.

Rohr then rewarded the forward with a rare start for Nigeria in last month’s final two rounds of qualifying for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations against Benin and Lesotho.

“We have all been impressed by Kelechi and this is very positive for our team to have a player doing well in a top league,” Rohr revealed after calling him up.

On Saturday, he was named in Leicester’s starting line-up against his former club Manchester City to make it six consecutive starts for the first time in his club career.

Ndidi concluded by wishing his compatriot well in the remaining league games of the season saying the team needs him to continue to score and assist goals.

“He’s a happy guy and Kelechi is only now enjoying a deserving reward for his tireless hard work.

“When you get a rhythm of games and the support of your coach, teammates and fans it can only get better.

“This latest chapter is going to give him the belief and confidence that he is a really important player for his club and country.

“I know and hope that he will continue to deliver for us. I never doubted him and I know he will bring more goals and performance that will continue to elevate him.”

Leicester currently sit in third spot on the table with 56 points from 30 games. Brendan Rodgers’ side will push for a top four finish which will secure them a spot in next season’s Uefa Champions League.

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By Prince Sobayeni

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