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Nigeria striker Ikechukwu Uche looks to the future

By Oluwashina Okeleji
BBC Sport

Ikechukwu Uche in action for Nigeria
Uche has not played for Nigeria since qualifying for the 2010 Nations Cup

Nigerian star Ikechukwu Uche says he is determined to make up for lost time after enduring a miserable 18 months on the sidelines.

The Real Zaragoza striker was injured in only his second match for the club in September 2009, and then in July last year he suffered another injury - just as he was preparing to return to football.

But now the 27-year-old is back in action and determined to make an impact, having scored his first goal in nearly two years last week.

"I want to prove I'm not the forgotten man - that I'm still the player I was before the setbacks," Uche told BBC Sport.

"It's been a bit frustrating not being involved for some time but now I'm involved I'm happy."

After making an emotional comeback as a substitute two weeks ago he scored the winner on his first start for the club in his side's 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao last Wednesday.

He now hopes to make the most of regaining full fitness with a sustained run in the Real Zaragoza first-team squad.

"I can definitely say that goal [against Bilbao] will go a long way in helping me be the strongest and fittest I've ever been," he said.

His injury cost Uche a place in the Super Eagles squad for the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola and the subsequent World Cup in South Africa.

His return has caught the attention of national selectors, media and fans back in Nigeria.

But the man himself is in no hurry to make an international comeback.

"It's flattering obviously to hear the media and fans asking when I will return," Uche told the BBC.

"[But] I'm only just coming back now and I've got a couple of weeks more to fit in here.

"If I keep proving myself here, I'm sure it could come sooner rather than later."

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see also
Uche given green light to play
01 Feb 11 |  African
Uche suffers new injury setback
30 Jul 10 |  African
Uche misses out for Super Eagles
31 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
Nigeria's Uche on his recovery
06 Jan 10 |  African
Uche completes Zaragoza switch
22 Jul 09 |  African

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