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The Curious Case of Dr Jekyll Troost Ekong and Mr Hyde

Watford manager Claudio Ranieri has suggested that William Troost-Ekong may lose his spot in defence after he conceded a late penalty in his side’s 2-1 away loss at Brentford on Friday night.

Many fans have suggested that, following a recent run of dubious performances for club and country, Ekong should improve.

For me, it’s not about areas of improvement per se. Ekong’s centre defensive skills have always been rough around the edges even when he was hot and on top of his game at the 2016 Olympics and the 2018 World Cup qualifiers run. But the problem is that he has lost form and has a slightly diminished focus. The penalty he conceded yesterday was just due to poor judgment. Executing a sliding tackle inside the 18 yard box always runs the risk of causing an infringement. All footballers lose form at one point or the other but, unfortunately for Ekong, he has lost form at the worst time possible. For Watford, he is currently deputising for the first choice centre back. Rather than make a case for himself to make the role his own, his performances have given justification as to why he (Ekong) should not be a starter. Ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations in January, his starting position in the Super Eagles is now untenable.

Unlike Alex Iwobi who is Dr Jekyll in Super Eagles colours and Mr Hyde in Everton, Ekong has been Mr Hyde for both Watford and Nigeria with his shambolic displays costing Nigeria dearly against Central Africa Republic and Cape Verde. But there is surely a route back for him. His partner in Crime Leon Balogun was off form in ahead of the 2019 Afcon: he has since rediscovered his form with sturdy displays in club football although some of his performances of late for Nigeria leave a lot to be desired. Ekong should be able to avail himself the services of a capable sports psychologist who will work with him to hopefully snap him out of the trance of Mr Hyde so that Dr Jekyll Ekong can re-emerge again for club and country.

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