By John Egbokhan
Super Eagles and Real Zaragoza forward, Ikechukwu Uche, weekend, made his long awaited return from an injury layoff during the Spanish league match against Real Madrid, which his Zaragoza side lost 2-1.
Uche, who is amongst the 44 players coach Lars Lagerback has invited to a pre-World Cup meeting and training session slated for April 27-28 in the United Kingdom, came in as a substitute for Ander Herrera, in the 74th minute and although his presence did not count for goals, he nonetheless, made an appreciable impact, during the time he spent on the pitch.
The 25-year-old Nigerian, had been in the doctorsâ€™ treatment room since September 13, 2009, after damaging his knee in Real Zaragozaâ€™s 4-1 loss to Sevilla in a la Liga fixture.
His absence was felt by his club and country, who were both unfortunate to miss the goal-scoring exploits of the committed Aba-born striker, whose goals had propelled Nigeria to prosecute an immaculate first phase campaign in the 2010 World Cup qualifying series.
He missed the Super Eaglesâ€™ last two 2010 World Cup qualifiers against Mozambique in October and then Kenya a month later.
He also did not feature at the African Cup of Nations Cup in Angola in January. During his time on the sidelines, Nigeria missed him but still managed to qualify for the World Cup in SouthAfrica, in time for Uche, who has now assumed match fitness, to lay a serious claim for a starting shirt in a field comprising of Obafemi Martins, Victor Nsofor, Chinedu Obasi and Osaze Odemwingie.
Coach Lagerback would be delighted to know that one of Nigeriaâ€™s highly rated forward is back in action and he would be hoping that the youngster quickly begins to score goals as the trip to South Africa approaches quickly.