My injury was real, says star Anichebe

LONDON - Everton striker Victor Anichebe has dismissed theories that he pulled out of Nigeria's squad recently for anything other than legitimate reasons.

LONDON - Everton striker Victor Anichebe has dismissed theories that he pulled out of Nigeria's squad recently for anything other than legitimate reasons.

Anichebe withdrew from a friendly against Australia in London on November 17 with a hand injury.

The 19-year-old said: "I felt a reaction in my hand after playing against Nurnberg and Chelsea.

"It was clear to me and the medical team at Everton that I needed to rest to prevent any long-term damage."

The Super Eagles lost 1-0 to the Socceroos in a match organised to prepare the national squad for the African Cup of Nations in Ghana in January next year.

The Nigerian squad was beset with injuries, with many of the team's big-name players being sidelined for the match played at Craven Cottage, the home of English Premier League side Fulham.

Captain Nwankwo Kanu was out with hamstring trouble, while Portsmouth teammate John Utaka had a groin strain.

Everton's Joseph Yobo was unfit for the game and was withdrawn, along with Chelsea's Jon Mikel Obi, who was unwell.

Anichebe says the absence of key players was unfortunate, but his commitment to the side remains as strong as ever.

"Any professional footballer has aspirations to play international football and I am delighted I have been fortunate enough to be given that opportunity by Nigeria." - BBC

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