Hibs’ Efe Ambrose eyes Nigeria recall and place at World Cup

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Efe Ambrose believes earning a recall to the Nigeria squad for this summer’s World Cup final would be the pinnacle of his career.

The Hibernian defender has been in sparkling form for the capital club as they chase European qualification in their first top-flight campaign since 2014, most recently being named in the SPFL’s team of the week for his performance against Aberdeen last Saturday.

Hibs' Efe Ambrose harbours hopes of an international recall. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS

Hibs' Efe Ambrose harbours hopes of an international recall. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS

The consistency of the 29-year-old has sparked talk of a call-up for Nigeria under head coach Salisu Yusuf, who takes his side to Barnet’s The Hive stadium in London for a friendly against Serbia next month as they step up preparations for Russia 2018.

Ambrose has not featured for the national side since playing against Egypt almost two years ago, but boasts 51 caps and an Africa Cup of Nations winners’ medal. He represented Nigeria at the last World Cup and insists he still has plenty to offer on the biggest stage of all.

“Coming back into the national team would be a great achievement and feeling for me,” he said. “To play for my country, to pull on that green-and-white shirt again would be my dream.

“My country gave me the platform to get to where I am today so representing them again would be the best thing that could happen to me in my football career. I think there is more I can give and more I can achieve. I will never say never.

“I have achieved so many aspirations with my national team, the Olympics, the under-20s, the Confederations Cup, winning the Nations Cup and playing in the World Cup. I have a lot of good experience with the national team.

“So for me, I just want to keep my form going and make sure I am in good shape, that is the most important thing. From there it is up to the gaffer to select me in the squad.

“If he sees me playing like I have been and wants to call upon my experience for the World Cup, then why not? That would be my dream, because it has been too long since I was part of the national team.”

Indeed, Ambrose reckons he is in the form of his career after making his initial loan deal from Celtic a permanent move last summer. He starred in the heart of defence alongside Paul Hanlon to impressive effect earlier this campaign before, in recent weeks, cutting a composed figure deputising at right-back due to injuries to Steven Whittaker and David Gray.

As well as revitalising his own career, he has helped Hibs to move within five points of second-placed Rangers.

“I think this is one of my best [career] moments, playing the way I am right now as part of this team,” said Ambrose. “It is not just about Efe Ambrose, we are in good form individually and as a team and that is helping us to put in the best performances.

“There is a bit of competition in the squad and the quality is very high. We have good players, good talent and to be able to match that you have to keep improving and be in the best form you can. If not, the manager [Neil Lennon] will take you and put someone else in.”

Ambrose also said he felt very content at Hibs.

“Everyone has responded to me so well – the fans, the staff and all the lads here,” he added. “They really helped me to settle down.”