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Nigeria injury blow

Injury rules Mikel out of finals

June 5, 2010
By Soccernet staff

Nigeria midfielder John Obi Mikel will miss the World Cup because of a knee injury, with uncapped Ideye Brown his replacement in the squad.

John Obi Mikel
GettyImagesJohn Obi Mikel returned to training but will not be featuring in South Africa

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Mikel has been out of action since injuring his knee playing for club side Chelsea in April, but he joined up with the Super Eagles squad at their training camp in Essex last week.

Lars Lagerback had included the midfielder in his final 23-man squad as it appeared he was recovering well from recent surgery on the troublesome knee, with the coach even suggesting that the midfielder would play some role in the friendly against North Korea on Sunday.

Mikel told kickoff.com: "It is the same knee and I did not want to risk any further damage, also I think it is in the best interest of the team for me to withdraw rather than waste a slot. I wish the team good luck and I know that they will surprise people.''

Mikel was unable to play any part in recent warm-up games against Saudi Arabia and Colombia, and has struggled to complete training in the past couple of days.

Nigeria team co-ordinator Emmanuel Attah initially claimed: "We have dropped Mikel from the World Cup after he told the team he did not want to put his career at risk as his knee injury has yet to fully heal after a recent surgery."

Mikel joins club team-mates Michael Ballack and Michael Essien in missing the finals, with Didier Drogba also a doubt after picking up an injury in Ivory Coast's friendly win over Japan.