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Iheanacho to focus on City instead of the Olympics

Kelechi Iheanacho pulls out of the Olympics

The Man City striker has agreed to stay with the Blues rather than head off to Rio with Nigeria for the Olympics in August.

Kelechi Iheanacho will focus on forcing his way into Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City team after the Blues decided not to let the player go to the Olympic Games.

The 19-year-old striker was invited to join the Nigeria squad for the Rio games, with the football tournament starting in August.

But City were under no obligation to release him, and with Guardiola taking the reins on July 1, he asked that every available player should take part in pre-season.

With players who progress in Euro 2016 and the Copa America already due to arrive back late, the Blues are keen to have as much as possible of their squad fully fit.

City are understood to have spoken extensively with Iheanacho, who is on holiday in Nigeria.

He wanted to represent his country, but is said to have fully understood City’s position, and is also aware of the need to show Guardiola what he can do.

With new players due to join the squad – Nolito and Leroy Sane remain strong possibilities – Iheanacho recognised the importance of being in the squad from the start.

The Olympic tournament, which is for Under-23 players, starts on August 3, which would mean Iheanacho missing a big chunk of pre-season as well as the summer tour of China.

If they progress from their group, Iheanacho would have been away for the start of the Premier League season.

And if they reached the medal positions – and Nigeria won silver in 2008 – he would miss at last the first leg of the Blues’ Champions League play-off.

This article first appeared in the Manchester Evening News

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