Northeast: Ini Umotong still upbeat

Ini Umotong Picture: Jordan Hampton
Ini Umotong Picture: Jordan Hampton

Perry Northeast has revealed Ini Umotong remains in positive spirits, despite her World Cup frustration.

After two group matches, the Nigerian international has still to make an appearance in the competition held in Canada.

I have no doubt Ini will come back a more equipped player, hands down. You cannot come back worse if you have played football every day for a month

Perry Northeast

Instead the 21-year-old has remained on the bench while the Super Falcons have picked up one point from their opening two matches.

Nigeria face the Jill Ellis’ USA tomorrow morning (1am) in Vancouver for their final group D fixture.

Umotong’s Pompey Ladies manager has kept in touch with the striker via WhatsApp and FaceTime during the tournament.

And Northeast insists she remains positive, regardless of the absence of first-team action.

He said: ‘I’ve been communicating with Ini throughout, offering little bits of advice, and she seems to be in high spirits.

‘However, she has mixed feelings over the fact she has yet to make an appearance in the competition.

‘Ini thoroughly understands the situation having gone out there as a relatively new international player, but if anyone is happy about not playing there is a problem.

‘She really wants some game time now and is itching to get onto that pitch to show what she can do.

‘It would be great to see her get some match action.

‘I was watching the second fixture against Australia and, when Nigeria were 2-0 down with 20 minutes to go, I was thinking she might get a go. Unfortunately she didn’t.

‘If you get selected for the World Cup you must have belief you are good enough to play on the world stage – and she does.

‘It’s not just having a badge saying “I’ve been there”, you can learn so much through training and improving every single day.

‘I have no doubt Ini will come back a more equipped player, hands down. You cannot come back worse if you have played football every day for a month.

‘Of course, the icing on the cake would be to get some game time. But I’m sure there are more World Cups to come.’

Meanwhile, Northeast has praised the loyalty of England’s Fran Kirby who has pledged to remain at Reading FC Women.

The striker scored in the 2-1 win over Mexico and is set to face Columbia tomorrow night.

The Royals play outside the FA Women’s Super League, but she has refused to leave.

He added: ‘Fair play to Fran, I don’t know her personally but for a player to say “Reading is my club and I will get into the top league with them” is very refreshing.

‘I have the likes of Gemma Hillier and Charley Wilson at Pompey who have been here more than 10 years and could and should have played at a higher level.

‘I am sure there have been many approaches in years gone by, but they have stuck by the club and that is to be applauded.’