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Gareth Southgate could face the possibility of missing out on an England call-up for Manchester United wonderkid Zidane Iqbal due to Iraqi football officials pushing for an international allegiance pledge.
Iqbal, who was born in Manchester, has represented Iraq Under-23s and was called up in October for the West Asian Football Federation Championship.
Iraq U23s reached the semi-finals before their elimination to Saudi Arabia.
Iqbal has also played against the United Arab Emirates, while the 18-year-old put on the captain’s armband before finding the back of the net against Lebanon.
The United midfielder still has the option to represent England, Iraq or Pakistan at senior level, but Southgate faces competition to secure his services.
According to Sky Sports, Iraqi chiefs are eager to see Iqbal commit his future to the Iraq national team.
Iqbal, who was born to a Pakistani father and Iraqi mother, signed his first professional contract with United in August.
The Red Devils starlet has established himself as a regular in the United Under-23s squad.
Iqbal found the back of the net against Sunderland in the EFL Trophy last month before scoring in United U19s’ 4-2 win over Atalanta in the UEFA Youth League.
The United youngster revealed that former Real Madrid and Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil is a huge inspiration for him.
“Mesut Ozil, because he's a Muslim like me. Just seeing another Muslim footballer is a good thing,” he told United’s website.
“The journey is different for everyone, and I can tell you it's not easy. It's like a rollercoaster, up and down. You just have to enjoy the ride and whatever's meant to be is meant to be.”
Iqbal added: “I come from such a hard-working family. My parents are always working hard, my brother, my grandparents.
“When we came to this country, they all inspired me to give my best at everything I do.”
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