McClaren must act or face losing Onuoha

Last updated : 09 August 2007 By Ben Collins
Yet England coach Steve McClaren may not be aware that Nigeria are lurking to snatch Onuoha from England's clutches.

Although the Nigerian-born defender is an England U21 international, he can still represent his country of birth as he is yet to appear for England at senior level.

Nigeria coach Berti Vogts took note of Onuoha's performances in the Premiership last season and at the European U21 Championship, and is hoping to convince him to commit to the African nation.

"The season starts soon in England and I will speak to Onuoha to hear his decision," he told BBC Sport.

"He is doing well in England; he is very young and will be a good addition to the team. But first I need to speak to him, the most important thing is to know what he thinks."

But regardless of Nigeria's interest, surely Onuoha should already be on McClaren's radar.

With John Terry and Ledley King injured, and Jamie Carragher having retired from international football, McClaren is short of a centre-back for the friendly against Germany on August 22 and next month's Euro 2008 qualifiers against Israel and Russia.

McClaren hinted this week that he could give an international recall to Sol Campbell, but Onuoha is at the top of his game right now.

He emerged as one of England's brightest prospects during the Euro U21s, and the friendly against Germany would be a perfect opportunity to blood him at senior level.

McClaren is due to watch Portsmouth's home game against United next Wednesday to check out Campbell's form, but the England boss will spend the opening day of the season at Upton Park watching his predecessor's first competitive game since the 2006 World Cup.

That means a decent performance by Onuoha could put him firmly in McClaren's plans before he even gets to have a look at Campbell.

Even if Onuoha fails to impress, McClaren should take the opportunity to call him up and give him a run-out against Germany. Otherwise, he may not get another chance.