At West Ham's Olympic Stadium at the weekend, there was a tall, powerful striker in action who could provide Gareth Southgate with some long-term competition for England's premier centre-forward Harry Kane. But it wasn't Andy Carroll.

For so long the former Newcastle big man was touted as the ‘something different' that England needed. A man who is quite literally unstoppable in the air when the delivery is right.

But despite a relative lack of options in attack for England, not to mention the return of the good old-fashioned centre forward thanks to the en vogue 4-2-3-1 formation, Carroll seems further away from the Three Lions squad than ever.

And it is for this reason that England need to act quickly when it comes to securing the future of the other big man in east London last weekend – Tammy Abraham.

The Chelsea striker, on loan at Swansea for the season, has been nurtured for the England senior squad for years now.

He has played for the Three Lions' Under-18s, Under-19s and Under-21s and Southgate knows all about the talent in that 6ft 3in athlete's frame.

So there would have been some worried looks around the FA offices last month when reports suggested that Abraham, still only 20, was set to turn his back on England and opt to play for Nigeria.

The source of the claim was Amaju Pinnick, the president of the Nigerian Football Federation and a close childhood friend of Abraham's father, who he grew up alongside in the town of Warri.

“I had a very honest and productive discussion with Tammy and his father last week,” he was quoted as saying in September.

“It’s been a long process but I can tell you authoritatively that he has agreed to play for Nigeria and not England.”

The intimation was that Abraham fancied the chance to play in the World Cup next year and his chances of going with England were far slimmer than with Nigeria.

It was even suggested that Pinnick, with the blessing of the Abrahams, had begun the process with Fifa to declare him a Nigeria player.

But any panic in England was short-lived as Abraham moved quickly to deny the rumours.

“Contrary to reports I would like to clarify I have not agreed to switch my national team allegiance,” he said in a statement. “I can confirm I met the president of the NFF after our last game against Tottenham at Wembley on Saturday, given he is a friend of my father.

“However, any suggestion I have made a decision to change my international representation is incorrect and wide of the mark. I have informed the FA that I remain available for selection for England.”

It should be noted, however, that Abraham stopped short of declaring his allegiance either way, and an approach from Nigeria to play at the World Cup may still be too hard to turn down.

Nigeria can book their spot at Russia 2018 with a win over Zambia at the weekend and it is likely that Pinnick will revisit the Abraham idea shortly afterwards.

England, meanwhile, should act quickly. Their squad for the weekend's qualifiers includes just four strikers. Kane is and will be first choice for the foreseeable future but beyond him the options are scarce.

Daniel Sturridge, who has scored one Premier League goal so far this season, is in there alongside 34-year-old Jermain Defoe, who has notched the same amount as Sturridge.

The fourth name in the forward unit is Manchester United's Marcus Rashford, undoubtedly one of the hottest prospects on the planet, but one who looks more suited to a spot on the wing and not leading the line in a 4-2-3-1.

After a few years of false nines and an emphasis on dazzling wingers, the central striker is back; look at Romelu Lukaku, Kane and Alvaro Morata for evidence of that.

Abraham was poor at West Ham but he has already scored three times for Swansea in a loan spell which will bring him on leaps and bounds.

His form might not yet warrant a call-up to the England squad, although some may argue otherwise, but with Nigeria so proactive in their attempts to lure him away from the Three Lions, it might be time for Southgate to act.

Abraham could become one of the world's finest No.9s over the next decade or more – it would be a shame if England missed out.

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