‘Please look after him’ - why some Bristol City fans are wary as Antoine Semenyo gets Ghana call-up
National call-up for Robins striker arrives – despite no league starts for Nigel Pearson’s side.
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The Black Stars face the bookies’ favourites for World Cup 2022 in Le Havre on 23 September in a prestigious warm-up match for the upcoming international tournament, before facing Nicaragua in Spain four days later.
Semenyo is in line to play a role, after a blockbusting start to his season with three goals in his first four appearances since a shin injury.
The 22-year-old has not yet started a match, though, as manager Nigel Pearson has carefully plotted the powerful player’s return to action.
But then given the form of City’s prolific current strike force of Andi Weimann, Tommy Conway and Nahki Wells, there has been no need to rush the former SGS College Filton forward back into full shifts on the pitch.
No team has scored more goals in English football’s top four tiers across all competitions than Bristol City this season, with the Robins unbeaten in their last eight matches and fourth in the league table.
“Antoine has come back from his difficulties in the summer and doesn’t look any different to before his injury,” explained Pearson after the 2-0 win against Huddersfield Town at Ashton Gate recently, in which Semenyo came on as a sub and blasted into the back of Terriers goalkeeper Lee Nicholls’ net with ten minutes remaining to settle the contest.
“It’s great to have options on the bench who can go on and affect the game. But Nahki Wells has also started well, having played largely a support role last season.
“It is up to the players in the team to keep their places and in the case of strikers that means scoring goals, which Nahki has done tonight.”
Bristol City supporters have highlighted on social media that Semenyo got injured on international duty last time he went away with Ghana, featuring in a 3-0 win over Madagascar before missing the friendly against Central African Republic played in Angola a few days later.
Semenyo will no doubt be keen to impress coach Otto Addo, especially with places in the Black Stars’ World Cup 2022 squad up for grabs.
And City supporters will be keen to see one of the club’s stars play on the biggest stage of all, but also to remain fit for what is looking like an extremely promising and exciting Championship campaign ahead.
Selected comments to the news of the call-up on social media ranged from ‘Please look after him’ to ‘he should maybe be taking it easy’.
Many fans may also recall a club versus country row that brewed in October 2019 when Hungarian midfielder Adam Nagy played for his national side but got injured missing large parts of the 2019/20 campaign for Bristol City.
Then head coach Lee Johnson was critical of the Hungary national team after they played Nagy in a Euro 2020 qualifier against Slovakia in the September, despite the midfielder having not recovered fully from an ankle injury.
However, supporters should, this time, take heart that the two coming Ghana games are closer to home – France and Spain – and not on the harder pitches of Africa.
Also that Semenyo will be all the stronger for his recent break from the game and the good sense to not rush the player back to action in recent weeks.
Ghana face Switzerland on 17 November in their final World Cup warm-up game before the tournament begins on 20 November.
The Black Stars are in Group H and will face Portugal, South Korea and Uruguay.