England Under-21 coach Lee Carsley has confirmed a meeting will be held with Arsenal sensation Folarin Balogun to convince him to declare for the Three Lions.
The on-loan Reims forward finds himself at the centre of an international tug-of-war between the country of his birth, the United States, and England. Balogun, the scorer of 18 goals for Reims this season in all competitions, was initially called up by the Young Lions but was forced to pull out due to injury.
He has since travelled across the pond during the international break, with Carsley confirming that he is anticipating talks with the 21-year-old regarding his international future.
He said: “That is the plan [to hold talks with Balogun]. You’re always going to miss a player with that knack of scoring. He’s going to have to make a decision, so all we can do is tell him how much we rate him. The rest is down to him. I’ll just be making the point of how important he is to us.
“Hopefully, we can talk a little bit about patience and understanding that he is going to have to keep doing what he’s doing to break through to the senior team. Like a lot of players in our squad, we’ve got a lot of players that are pushing. Hopefully, he can see that.
“I’ve been there myself as a young player, you’re in a rush and you want to get there quickly. Hopefully, I can convince him.”
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Balogun’s talks with the Football Association set-up will not be the first discussions he has held regarding his international future. United States interim coach Anthony Hudson has already confirmed that talks took place during the young striker’s trip during the most recent international break.
England senior boss Gareth Southgate has also given his view on Balogun’s future international commitments and has suggested that electing to change nations has not always benefitted a player.
He said: “I haven’t [spoken to Balogun] yet because to this point, he has been with the under-21s and very happy. Clearly, other nations have been quite aggressive in their recruitment and what they are offering.
“That, in my experience of history, has sometimes been really successful for the players and sometimes hasn’t worked out. I’ve seen countries cap players at 16 or 17 and they’ve disappeared. In the end, as a player, I think you back yourself, but you have got to ultimately make the decision.
Balogun has flitted between nations since his initial breakthrough at Arsenal. He started with England under-17s before representing United States under-18 level. Since then, he has played for the Young Lions.
The Gunners forward, who grew up in London, is also eligible to play for Nigeria as his parents were born in the African country. Should he overcome his injury issues, he will be back in action this weekend for Reims. They will be aiming to get back on track against Nantes after suffering their first league defeat since September against Marseille last time out.