Chelsea loanee Aina is following a similar path to the Watford midfielder and was delighted to see his friend make his Three Lions debut
Nathaniel Chalobah has been backed to make it at the highest level by his former Chelsea team-mate Ola Aina after the Watford midfielder made his England debut.
England coach Gareth Southgate handed Chalobah his Three Lions bow as a late substitute in Monday’s impressive UEFA Nations League victory away to Spain.
Aina is delighted to see Chalobah making his mark with England and feels the 23-year-old has all the attributes required to become an integral member of the squad in the future.
“It is really good that he is back in the fold and in the eyes of the England set up,” Aina told Goal while on international duty with Nigeria. “Let’s hope he can progress and become the player that always gets picked for England, he has good qualities and he can go all the way.
“He is so level headed. His temperament is good. He is very strong and physical, and he is not slow. He has got everything that you need in a midfielder. That’s why I think he can probably go all the way. He needs just more game time at Watford and fewer injuries.
“I am close to everyone who has been through Chelsea. Tammy [Abraham], Fikayo [Tomori], Kasey [Palmer], [Charlie] Colkett, Dominic Solanke and Michael Hector. The group that have come from Chelsea are like a family. We all communicate and we all get along.”
Meanwhile, Aina also revealed the role Chalobah played in his adaptation to life in Serie A during his loan spell with Torino.
Nigeria international Aina is spending the season at Torino, following in the footsteps of Chalobah, who took in a spell in Italy with Napoli during the 2015-16 season.
Chalobah was often on the bench in Naples, but he regularly cites it as a crucial stage in his development and Aina credits his friend’s advice in helping him to settle in Italy, having made eight Serie A appearances already.
Aina added: “He said it will be difficult, obviously. He said if I absorb the culture and go in with an open mind that it shouldn’t be too hard. That’s what I have tried to do. He has told me how Italians are, what they do differently on the pitch and how they prepare before games.
“The advice he has given me has helped. I always message him, we always talk.
Aina made his sixth Nigeria appearance in the 4-0 African Cup of Nations qualifying match against Libya, which put his side two points ahead of last weekend’s opponents in Group E. They meet again in Libya on Tuesday, with Nigeria aiming to move five points clear of the third-place team in a group being headed up by South Africa.
The 22-year-old is part of a young squad and he hopes that the two-time AFCON winners will be in good shape by the time the competition comes around in Cameroon next summer.
“I think so [that Nigeria’s young squad will improve],” he added. “We are working hard every day. The team is working hard. The team bond is really good. Let’s just hopefully get to the AFCON and then hopefully we will have gelled well and be able to play our best football.
“Even some of the younger players have already earned such experience. There’s a lot of players who are experienced despite their young age. It is good for my development to be here, this is a vibrant squad. I enjoy the football aspect too.
“Of course, everyone helped to make my transition into the team smooth. It has been very helpful to me. I am enjoying myself every time I join up and I enjoy meeting up with the squad every time. To be on the international scene is good for me because I am playing with such good players.”