Napoli striker Victor Osimhen has requested an exclusion from the Nigeria squad ahead of their US tour.
Osimhen, Iheanacho and Odion Ighalo are among the six players missing from the squad as the Super Eagles continue their build-up towards 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in June.
Osimhen has been at the centre of transfer speculations following an impressive season with Napoli and is a target of Arsenal, Manchester United, and Newcastle among others. His exclusion from the friendlies in the US this month came as a shock, as stand-in coach Salisu Yusuf named a 30-man squad on Wednesday.
A source at the NFF told ESPN that it was the player’s choice: “He called and asked us to excuse him for personal reasons.
“Of course, a striker of his quality is a big loss, but it also gives us the opportunity to look at some other players who may not have had a chance if he was there. That includes some of the boys who have been doing well in the domestic league.”
According to ESPN, Iheanacho, who was a starter at the AFCON in January under Augustine Eguavoen, and Ighalo, the NFF official said they could well return for the qualifiers against Sierra Leone and São Tomé é Príncipe.
But first, they take on Mexico at the AT & T Stadium in Dallas, Texas on May 28, and follow that up four days later with a clash against Ecuador at the Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.
Other absentees are goalkeepers Francis Uzoho and Daniel Akpeyi. Uzoho has barely played at his club since the error which gifted Ghana the goal that ended up costing Nigeria a World Cup ticket, while Akpeyi’s time as an international is believed to be winding to a close.
THE FULL SQUAD
Goalkeepers: Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam, The Netherlands); Adewale Adeyinka (Akwa United); Ojo Olorunleke (Enyimba FC)
Defenders: Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); Abdullahi Shehu (AC Omonia, Cyprus); Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto, Portugal); William Ekong (Watford FC, England); Leon Balogun (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Isa Ali (Remo Stars); Chidozie Awaziem (Alanyaspor FC, Turkey); Oluwasemilogo Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England); Calvin Bassey (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Ibrahim Buhari (Plateau United)
Midfielders: Joseph Ayodele-Aribo (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Alex Iwobi (Everton FC, England); Oghenekaro Etebo (Watford FC, England); Chiamaka Madu (Rivers United); Babatunde Afeez Nosiru (Kwara United); Azubuike Okechukwu (Yeni Malatyaspor, Turkey); Samson Tijani (Red Bull Salzburg, Austria); Alhassan Yusuf (Royal Antwerp FC, Belgium)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Fatih Karagumruk, Turkey); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal FC, Spain); Ademola Lookman (Leicester City, England); Sadiq Umar (UD Almeria, Spain); Emmanuel Dennis (Watford FC, England); Cyriel Dessers (Feyenoord FC, The Netherlands); Victor Mbaoma (Enyimba FC); Ishaq Rafiu (Rivers United)