Former Nigerian Under-17 coach Emmanuel Amunike has urged Kelechi Iheanacho to stay grounded and given him advice on how to break into the Leicester City starting XI.
Iheanacho, 24, has now begun his fifth season for the Foxes after joining from Manchester City in the summer of 2017. He has made 101 Premier League appearances for the East Midlanders, scoring 21 goals. But only 44 of those outings have been starts.
And the African ace has yet to be given the nod by Brendan Rodgers this term. Amunike coached Iheanacho while he was in charge of the Nigeria youth side that won the 2015 Under-17 World Cup.
He has watched with interest as Iheanacho moved to Manchester before breaking into the Citizens’ senior side. The talented forward scored 21 goals from 64 appearances in all competitions for the Premier League champions.
And it was somewhat of a surprise when he was moved on to the King Power Stadium. The Nigeria international has shown glimpses of his undoubted talent.
But he has not displayed the consistency needed to become a regular starter. And Amunike feels it is vital that the man with 11 Nigeria goals does not get ahead of himself.
“He should not allow the success of the today to overwhelm him because what is good today in football is outdated tomorrow, so he just needs to continue to realise that and continue to work hard,” he told Tribal Football.
And the former Tanzania boss has outlined one area that his former charge needs to work on to convince Rodgers of his worth.
“He’s a player with talent. But of course there are other aspects a player needs to try as much as he can to improve especially when he is not with the ball,” he added.
“It is more important to know how to play without the ball and that will justify how to rate a player totally.”
Rodgers admits Iheanacho failings
Having started 16 top-flight games in 2020-2021, Iheanacho would have had high hopes for the new campaign. However, he has been limited to just 82 minutes of league football to date and has yet to find the net.
But he was on the scoresheet as Leicester beat Millwall 2-0 in the EFL Cup on Wednesday evening. It remains to be seen if it is enough to earn him a starting berth against Burnley on Saturday.
Towards the end of last season, the Northern Irishman pulled no punches in his assessment of the forward.
“Jamie Vardy has done it throughout his career and Kelechi Iheanacho is now showing his qualities,” he said. “He can still improve as he is still making too many mistakes, but he is getting in there.”