- Injured Balogun out of England Under-21s
- Forward since spotted in U.S.
- But Carsley unaware of any issues
WHAT HAPPENED? Balogun's international future remains the subject of speculation with the forward eligible to play for England, the United States and Nigeria. The Arsenal loanee was snubbed by Gareth Southgate's side but called up to the Under-21 squad. He subsequently pulled out due to injury but has been spotted in the U.S. in Orlando, where the USMNT is currently based.
England U21s boss Lee Carsley has been asked about the situation and is confident Balogun's injury is legitimate.
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WHAT THEY SAID: "I spoke to Flo on Monday, he obviously completed 90 minutes on Sunday, felt his right hamstring an injury that he’s had previously. The doctor has confirmed that with our doctor. So you can only take what they’re saying to be accurate," he said to The Athletic. "I then spoke to Flo on the phone, asked him if everything was OK. We spoke about the injury first, but then asked if he’s OK. Yes, fine. No problems.
"He didn’t give me any inkling that there was an issue or that he was thinking of doing anything in the future. He said he is looking forward to the summer and all the rest of it so will obviously follow that up after camp. I’ll make sure that I go over (to France). I’ve been to France a couple of times now to watch the players and I’ll make a point of going over and meeting Flo."
AND WHAT'S MORE: Carsley also admitted that there were no guarantees Balogun will opt to play for England but made it clear he is highly thought of within the national team set-up.
"You can’t twist someone’s arms to play for England. You know we can only make him feel as welcome as we can. We rate him highly," he added. "We’ve supported him when things weren’t great. We called him into the 21s when he was playing for Arsenal’s Under-23s because I knew what potential he had."
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Balogun has been brilliant in Ligue 1 since joining Reims on loan from Arsenal. The forward has even made history this season by becoming the youngest player to score at least 17 goals in his debut Ligue 1 campaign since 1956. USMNT temporary coach Anthony Hudson has confirmed there is an "open dialogue" with Balogun about the possibility of playing for the Stars and Stripes.
IN THREE PHOTOS:Getty ImagesGettyGetty Images
WHAT NEXT? Reims will be hoping to have Balogun available after the international break. The Ligue 1 side return to action against Nantes on Sunday, April 2.
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