Enyeama situation bad timing for Nigeria

Rufai: Nigeria needs Enyeama to return (0:50)

Peter Rufai spoke at the Star Sixes tournament in London about Vincent Enyeama's International future. (0:50)

It was disturbing news to hear that the services of Nigeria's appearance record-holder Vincent Enyeama are no longer required by new Lille coach Marcelo Bielsa.

The experienced goalkeeper joined Lille back in 2011 from Hapoel Tel Aviv and has enjoyed the last four seasons as the team's first-choice goalkeeper.

After making a total of 143 French Ligue 1 appearances since the beginning of 2013-14 season, Enyeama's career at Les Dogues appears to be in jeopardy after Bielsa allegedly informed the player and 10 others via SMS not to bother resuming pre-season training with the rest of the squad ahead of the upcoming campaign.

The experienced Argentine manager appears to have settled for the younger duo of Mike Maignan and Herve Koffi -- aged 22 and 20 respectively -- as he looks to the future, much to the dismay of the experienced Nigerian who will be 35 in less than two months' time.

Enyeama had been highly tipped to come out of international retirement following two years of not donning the green and white of Nigeria.

Carl Ikeme's persistent injuries in the days and weeks leading up to crucial matches for the Super Eagles as well as a lack of quality back-up options increased the call for the France-based goalkeeper to make a U-turn on his national team career.

His experience coupled with that of John Obi Mikel, Victor Moses and Leon Balogun were highlighted as the missing link in the Super Eagles' last outing, a pathetic performance and subsequent home loss against the Bafana Bafana of South Africa.

The big question now is, will Gernot Rohr still be open to the idea of a return for an out-of-favour or potentially clubless goalkeeper? Or will Enyeama's rich Curriculum Vitae -- which includes 101 international caps -- attract interested suitors before the end of the transfer window?

If the latter scenario eventually plays out, Enyeama might well be reluctant to come out of international retirement at a time when he is settling into a new club and environment.

The last time the Super Eagles were in this same boat was on the eve of the 1998 FIFA World Cup, when Ike Shorunmu picked up a hand injury that paved the way for the return of Peter Rufai.

Rufai had been inactive at international level for over three years, played a handful of games for Deportivo La Coruna in a World Cup year, and was also coincidentally a few days from celebrating his 35th birthday.

Taking into account Rufai's below-par performance 19 years ago, Nigerians might begin to develop cold feet about the inclusion of Enyeama ahead of crucial World Cup qualifiers in the coming months under similar circumstances.