After disappointment at Rangers, Sadiq Umar has earned back his stripes

Eleven goals in 16 league appearances, and five in 12 Europa League games should be more than enough to earn a striker international consideration.

But how Sadiq Umar has somehow been unable to find himself in Super Eagles contention must be a veritable tale in what sort of havoc rotten luck, injuries and misfortune can wreak on a player's career in a short space of time.

As of 2016, Jololo was considered first in line among the youngsters who were expected to make the breakthrough to the senior squad in rapid quick time.

The lanky forward scored four goals in six games to emerge Nigeria's top scorer at the Olympic Games in Brazil. And fine goals they were too, including two in the classification game against Honduras that helped Nigeria to a 3-2 win and ultimately, the bronze medal.

Maybe it is not Umar

Of the 18 players in that Olympic squad who were not already Super Eagles starters, only Oghenekaro Etebo has made the breakthrough.

But the case could have been different for Sadiq. That Olympics proved to be both blessing and curse for him. The tournament happened at a most inauspicious time for the then 19-year-old.

He was barely a year into his Roma career, and had just been promoted by manager Rui Garcia from the Primavera side to the senior squad after scoring eight goals in three junior games. He went on to score twice in six games for the senior team but the capital club were struggling.

As is inevitable with a big club struggling in the wrong half of the table, a change in manager was not long in coming. Luciano Spalletti was brought in to steady the Roma ship. Umar's decision to go play at the Olympics meant he would not have the benefit of a full pre-season with his new manager.

That proved costly. He lost his place in the first team, and found himself shipped out on loan to Bologna, where injuries restricted his time on the field. It was to be the start of a long and almost unending series of loan deals which have seen him been at Torino, NAC Breda, Rangers and Perugia before his current move to Partizan.

Rangers was a particularly unhappy spell for the young striker. Having arrived with something of a big reputation after his time at Breda where he scored five goals in 17 appearances, he was expected to carry the striking mantle for the Scottish giants.

But things did not quite work out according to plan

"At Rangers it was a case of coming with a big reputation after a good six months in Holland," a source close to the player told ESPN. "It is hard to explain, but everything just went south for him there. Even he cannot explain it.

"Gerard also never took to his style of play. At one point he was told not to park his car in the same car park with the senior team, the boss saying he was driving an expensive Range Rover, and things like that.

"He had regular disagreements with the manager. He was working hard at training and giving his best, but was not getting games and he decided he wanted to leave so the loan deal was terminated."

Those off-field problems at Rangers meant he finished the rest of the season at Perugia, scoring three times in 17 appearances to help them into the promotion playoff, which ultimately proved unsuccessful.

Even more telling, was that the Rangers disaster cost him an international callup. Prior to that move, he had spoken with Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr and received assurances that he would get at least a look-in after the World Cup.

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But his inability to get playing time meant he dropped off Rohr's radar.

That is as much a loss for the player as it is for the national team. Sixteen goals in 26 appearances is nothing to sneeze at.

Victor Osimhen is as good as they come right now, but Umar is not far behind. He is as long-limbed as the Lille man, just as deceptively quick and equally nimble on his twinkle-toed feet.

From a numbers point of view, he has done better than the Lille striker, who has nine goals in 17 league appearances, one in one Cup game and two in five European games for a total of 12 in 23.

There was a lot of buzz about Cyriel Dessers committing to Nigeria last week, but in truth, the one man who could well slot in seamlessly in Osimhen's absence could be Jololo.

They are built so similarly, and play so similarly, using the length of their lower extremities to both win, shield and pass the football that a cursory glance might just mistake one for the other.

Add their prosperity for finding the back of the net with such regular abandon this season, and it is well within the realms of possibility that Rohr's striking woes may prove to be phantom.

As the games in March approach, it is uncertain if his current form has put him back on the Nigeria callup list, but one thing is for certain, if any player deserves to get a call to the Super Eagles in March, it is Umar.

He has fought his way back from the dead, and earned a second first chance at pulling on the green and white strip in a senior game.