Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount have had good starts to their seasons and it’s no surprise they’re the rave of the moment at Chelsea.
On the international level though, both players were not given the chance to continue their impressive duo performances. Mason Mount got called up by Gareth Southgate and Tammy Abraham was not.
It would seem like an injustice to the Chelsea forward though as he’s been just about standout in terms of performances in his position.
So far this term, only one Englishman, Raheem Sterling, has scored more than the 21-year-old in the Premier League. Yet Marcus Rashford, Harry Kane and Callum Wilson were selected as the striking options by the Three Lions boss.
Despite scoring at a rate higher than a goal every two games, Abraham is yet to feature at senior international level competitively.
As such, he has been approached by Nigeria, as he is eligible to play for the African nation via his heritage. Reportedly, the Chelsea striker has told NFF president Melvin Amaju Pinnick that he will inform him in April 2020 of his decision.
Whether he has that long to wait – he may be selected by Southgate before then – remains to be seen, but should he opt for the Super Eagles, it would not be the first time a player has snubbed England, and it would not necessarily be a detriment to his career. In fact, quite the opposite.
Wilfried Zaha is one of the prime examples. The 26-year-old winger did appear twice for England under Roy Hodgson but not in a competitive game, just like Abraham. He didn’t play international football again until January 2017, when he made his debut for the Ivory Coast, and since then he’s bagged 20 of his 54 career goals – nearly half.
He was even linked with a big-money move to both Arsenal and Bayern Munich in the summer and that exposure to regular international football has clearly aided his development.
Ashley Williams chose another nation over England in the form of Wales. Born in Wolverhampton, he played for the Dragons first in 2005 when he was with Stockport County in League One, albeit not becoming a regular until after he joined Swansea City.
In the end, he went onto to make 86 appearances for the Welsh and captained the side to the semi-finals of Euro 2016 while his domestic career enjoyed an upward trajectory ending with a spell at Everton.
Scott McTominay has done the same more recently. The midfielder chose to represent Scotland after he was allegedly only sent a text by Southgate.
Whilst it is too early to tell the impact it will have on his career, he is more likely to appear regularly for the Tartan Army due to the competition in England’s midfield and that surely only helps his chances of more game-time at Old Trafford. He’s started every match for United in the Premier League so far this season.
Tammy Abraham can take a cue from these players and see that snubbing England might actually not be a bad choice.
Or perhaps the best player the Chelsea man can learn from is Gabriel Agbonlahor. Also of Nigerian and Scottish descent but he opted to play for England because according to him it was more “promising”. After being named in the u21s with Nigeria, he rejected the call and went to The Three Lions instead.
The rest is history as Agbonlahor (now 32) has only three senior caps and zero goals in his “promising” England career.
On paper, it may seem like choosing England over Nigeria is a more “exciting” option which it actually is. But the reality is that every player wants game time and as a youngster, he will have better chances with the Super Eagles.
Harry Kane is still 26 and has many good years left to play. Then there’s Callum Wilson and Marcus Rashford as well. If you look a bit further still, there’s still Ashley Barnes who has equally been impressive but was not selected as well.
All of these players are way ahead of Tammy Abraham in any regard and a chance of him getting any decent time with all of them available is super slim.
Switch to Nigeria where their main striker is Odion Ighalo.
At 30, he only has at best one more major competition left in him before the role becomes available for a new heir. Also, the only other person in line to challenge Abraham will be 22-year-old Henry Onyekuru. But he plays for Monaco and with that in mind, he won’t get as much buzz and authenticity as a Chelsea player would.
Abraham certainly has a big decision in front of him, and it is not one he should make lightly.
However, choosing Nigeria ahead of England may actually progress him as a player because it gives him a greater chance of playing in games of high magnitude, such as AFCON finals. Nigeria have reached seven before.