McClaren waits for Nigeria's confirmation on Yakubu

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The Independent Football

Steve McClaren is still waiting for confirmation that his striker Aiyegbeni Yakubu has been withdrawn from the Nigeria squad for next month's African Nations Cup.

The 23-year-old has told the Teessiders he will not be travelling to Egypt for the competition, which could have seen him miss up to nine games for his club, including both legs of the Carling Cup semi-final should they get past Blackburn Rovers tonight.

Yakubu, who has scored 11 goals since joining Boro from Portsmouth during the summer, does not enjoy the best of relationships with the national coach, Augustine Eguavoen, and has decided to stay in England despite being selected for the squad. "We have got to wait from confirmation from the Nigerian FA, so there's still a long way to go before we can actually say that he's not going," said McClaren.

Yakubu is likely to start tonight as Boro aim to reach the last four of the competition they won in 2004, while Chris Riggott has completed a one-match ban and James Morrison has a chance of playing despite being carried from the field unconscious at the weekend. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (hamstring) remains a doubt and Szilard Nemeth and Stuart Parnaby (both hamstring), Stewart Downing and Ray Parlour (both knee), Gaizka Mendieta (calf) and Tony McMahon (shoulder) are still on the sidelines.

While Boro won the trophy in 2004, the Blackburn manager, Mark Hughes, lifted the Cup in 2002 while playing for the club and sees winning the competition as a realistic goal.

"You don't get that many opportunities to win trophies, " Hughes said. "The Carling Cup is a realistic goal. We set out our stall this season to go far in the competition. Middlesbrough are one of the few clubs, along with ourselves, who have paid the competition the respect it deserves and got success because of that."

The Wales striker Craig Bellamy and the New Zealand defender Ryan Nelsen could come into contention for the quarter-final following hamstring injuries. The winger Morten Gamst Pedersen remains doubtful however after suffering knee and heel injuries in the defeat by Fulham at the weekend.