Garba Lawal has blamed Victor Moses' exclusion from the final three-man shortlist for the African Player of the Year 2017 on his persisting injury problem.
The Nigeria international was excluded from the race for the individual accolade at the expense of Egypt's Mohammed Salah, Senegal's Sadio Mane and Gabon's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
It was one that generated a lot of questions as the 27-year-old helped Chelsea to the English Premier League title in a resurgent 2016-17 season, and also played a key role as the Super Eagles secured Russia 2018 World Cup ticket.
And, although, the ex-international feels the former Liverpool player is deserving of a spot in the final shortlist, he said his nagging injury issues in the ongoing campaign was a major factor for his ouster.
"Salah was a fantastic player, scoring 14 goals already for Liverpool. He has won the BBC African player of the Year and playing week in, week out," Lawal told Goal.
"Mane is doing okay too, likewise Aubameyang. All these three are doing fantastic football at the moment too because those contending with him are in form and made it really tough for him.
"Moses was in great form last season but the injury gave him no chance. I believe this was his time seeing his great form last season but when I saw Salah was also coming up, I knew it will be really difficult," he continued.
"As a footballer, when you have an injury, in football it is going to be difficult to recover quickly and compete strongly. I believe if four players were to be shortlisted, Moses should have been part of them. It is not easy playing consistently for a top team and luck been injury free.
"In the German Bundesliga too, Aubameyang is scoring a lot of goals for Borussia Dortmund and currently still in a very good form."
With the hope of a Nigerian winning the accolade dashed, Lawal expressed worries over the 23-year wait but is backing the Chelsea man to break the jinx in 2018.
"It has been a long time that a Nigerian last won it and missing out again is very disturbing! This time, we thought the form of Victor Moses for Chelsea from last season would see him win it so easily," he continued.
"But with what we are seeing now from Sarah and Mane, it is really very tight. If you will put the achievement and form of those players against each other, you will see the difference.
"But I believe if Moses continues to play week-in, week out at Chelsea, he will be in strong contention for the next award. He should just focus on his game and keep playing regularly," he concluded.
Moses has featured in 11 of 18 English top-flight games for Chelsea this season and, having recently returned from a spell on the sidelines, the wing-back will be hoping to stay fit as Antonio Conte's side - placed third - continue to chase runaway league leaders, Manchester City.