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With the Afcon approaching – Keshi speaks out about the Hull City midfielder's chances of making the final Nigeria squad

Stephen Keshi has once again assuaged fears concerning certain players’ places in his plans. This time around it was Hull City forward Sone Aluko who was reassured about his potential role at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations. 

Having not featured for the Super Eagles since June, and overlooked for games against Nambia, Malawi, and Venezuela, it was beginning to look like Aluko would be struggling to make the plane to South Africa in January. 

Speaking to the BBC, Keshi suggested that whilst he was already certain about some of the players that he would be taking to the Afcon, and some of those that he would be leaving behind, Aluko was still in with a chance of making the squad, "Does he have a chance to go to South Africa? Probably. I like him as a player and for being a top professional in camp."

With competition for places heating up – particularly among strikers – the Super Eagles’ two remaining friendlies are now seen as crucial for making those final decisions about squad spots. Keshi also acknowledged the problems some of his fringe players can have in establishing themselves. "There were a lot of players around for the World Cup and Nations Cup qualifiers, so it was difficult for Aluko to prove himself." 

The recent inclusion of Bright Dike and Shola Ameobi, both debutants in Miami, has further increased Keshi’s options – these two indicate that the Nigerian boss is looking for physical players to complement his artists and speed merchants.

Quite where Aluko fits into these plans isn’t totally clear, but with a professional poise, and pace to burn, the former Aberdeen man could well offer something to Nigeria’s Afcon squad.