Barely a year after joining Stoke City, he was voted the club’s Player of the Year and was in the heart of the South Coast side’s midfield. However, with injury and a change of guard of the coaching crew, making the bench is now a luxury for Oghenekaro Etebo
Stoke City manager, Michael O’Neill has revealed that Super Eagles midfielder Oghenekaro Etebo has no chance with the first team the time being, but will only be allowed time with the U-23 side, a decision that has angered a section of the fan base.
Etebo has been battling with fitness issues since being forced off the pitch after just 23 minutes against Sheffield Wednesday on October 22.
However, the former Feirense midfielder returned to training two weeks ago and even made the substitute bench in a loss at Cardiff in late November but has not appeared in a matchday squad since.
The midfield workhorse was expected to be in line to make his much anticipated return on Tuesday when the Potters, in search of their first win in four games, host Luton Town.
But Stoke manager O’Neill has decided to gradually ease the all-action fans favourite back to top level football by featuring him in the club’s U23 side and not against Luton Town at the Bet365 Stadium. A decision drew the ire of the Potters fans who have reacted in disbelief and shock at the Nigerian’s absence.
O’Neil was appointed by Stoke City on November 8 after parting ways with Nathan Jones on November 1 due to series of poor performances which saw the team sit bottom of the table.
He was quoted on Stoke’s official twitter account to have said: “Peter Etebo will play for the Under-23s given the amount of time he has been out.
“Peter came back after, I think, four weeks out. When I came to the club, Peter was injured. He’d come back from international duty and been injured. So that was far from ideal. His training has been ok, it’s been no better than ok, so that’s important.
“There’s no guarantee that anyone comes back and we put them straight in the team. He is not being treated any different to any other players.”
Meanwhile, Stoke fans had risen in support of the Nigeria international.
@John45804389: Another manager without a backbone. Etebo at 50% is better than Allan at 100%. Grow a pair and drop these non-performers
@jamie_speed: The player with the most natural stamina needing an under 23s warm-up game after being back in the squad for 2 weeks is farcical. Even a 50% fitness Etebo is still better than anything we have playing atm.
@RussellDutton: Absolutely unbelievable, he must be one of the fittest players in the squad even after a slight injury. Something odd happening there.
@george95349403: Absolute joke MON is really acting like he doesn’t have a clue, etebo is our best player and our fittest player it’s a joke.
Etebo missed Super Eagles friendly game against Brazil and Africa Cup of Nations qualifier matches against Benin Republic and Lesotho after the 23-year-old midfielder was taken out in the 24th minute of the encounter between Stoke City and Sheffield Wednesday.
The injury is a huge blow for Stoke City as former coach; Nathan Jones blamed the loss to Sheffield Wednesday on Etebo’s absence.
“To lose Etebo early was a big blow for us and then lose your centre-half, invariably the one that came on makes a big error for the only goal of the game,” Jones said after the game. Etebo suffered a muscular injury which will take a while to recover.”
Etebo indeed expressed disappointment for his failure to come up against his international teammate Semi Ajayi when West Bromwich Albion played Stoke City in the Championship.
“He is always very hardworking in training when we are in camp. I would say that 95 per cent of the time, we are almost always on the same side in training and I can see how much work he is doing,” Etebo had said.
“The few times that we play against each other, we win almost the same number of interceptions and tackles. So I would say that there is not much difference between us. I would have loved to play against him.
“We played against each other twice when he was at Rotherham and it was a draw. I am disappointed not to be able to face him in his new club.”
“This time, I will be there as a fan supporting my team and I wish him well and hope he has a good game, but I am sure my team will win, so he will go home disappointed with the result but I hope he plays well,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, Rohr had admitted he was missing the services of Etebo who has not been part of the squad during their recent AFCON qualifying games.
“I hope everybody will be fit, we missed some players for the qualifiers like Oghenekaro Etebo and Bryan Idowu, who could not come,” he said.