VICTOR ANICHEBE insists his priority is building on his impressive start to the season with Everton - not worrying whether he will go to the African Cup of Nations with Nigeria.
The 24-year-old has stayed fit and focused so far this campaign scoring three goals, after a difficult spell with injuries in recent seasons. He has deputised impressively for Nikica Jelavic earlier this season, and insists the pair could form a potent partnership.
So even though he was overlooked for the Super Eagles squad earlier this month, the powerful forward said he is not letting it hit his growing confidence.
He said: “The thing with Nigeria is, I am a fan. I follow the games – I followed the game at the weekend and I was happy Victor Moses scored, I spoke to (John Obi) Mikel a bit as well. They have done really well to qualify.
“I am more concentrating on here. This is the first time I have stayed fit for a while and I feel good in myself, so thinking of the national team hasn’t come into my head.”
The next African Cup of Nations takes place in South Africa at the start of 2013. Everton’s Steven Pienaar won’t be involved after retiring from international football, and Anichebe admits that club football is the priority for him too.
“I want the fans in Nigeria to be happy and they are now we have qualified for the African Nations,” he said.
“The coach there is building a good team. I’m not even thinking of being in the squad, I am thinking of being here (at Everton).
“Everton have stuck by me and helped me get back fit so I am thinking about this more.”
Anichebe has only started three games so far for David Moyes’ men but is taking heart from his form, and the way the side has played.
He said: “I think we’ve done OK, it’s been a good start to the season as opposed to the past seasons and confidence is fairly high. We can see the fans are happy and we are as a group.
“Nobody should get ahead of ourselves though.
“I feel good. I felt like I’ve come in and done well. Even against Wigan I didn’t play so much but I was involved in the goal and felt good when I came on. It was a really hard game and to get a point there was a credit to us as a group.
“Hopefully we can keep clear of injuries and I’m sure we’ll be fine.”
Asked whether he can become a long-term striking partner to first choice front man Jelavic, the academy graduate said: “I think so. Me and Niki have spoken about it and we could definitely do that, but Felli has been playing there and he’s been unbelievable.
“Naisy can play there as well and so can Tolis (Vellios).
“We’ve got a lot of people who can play with Jela, there’s a lot of competition so whatever happens.”
Anichebe hopes he can be involved when Everton return to Premier League action at Loftus Road on Sunday.
“QPR have a small pitch and it’s so close,” he said. “They’re struggling and they need results.
They’ve bought a lot of players and so they have a lot of expectations on them.”
As one of the original founder members of the Football League, Everton are a club steeped in history and tradition and have played more seasons in the top flight of English football than any other club. Their association with the greatest cup competition in the world has thus conjured some wonderful moments, and this offering from Sport Media celebrates a century of memories since their first FA Cup success in 1906. Celebrate a century of memories with 'Everton's FA Cup 100'. Read