Norway and Ipswich Town’s Jonathan Parr aiming for international recall having learned from ex-Liverpool and AS Roma star
Christophe Berra, Daryl Murphy and Jonny Williams could well add to their tally of international caps this weekend in their countries’ Euro 2016 qualifiers, leaving one Ipswich Town player particularly envious.
Williams’ Wales host Bosnia-Herzegovina tonight, while Berra and Scotland and Murphy and the Republic of Ireland, are at home to Georgia and Gibraltar respectively tomorrow evening.
Jonathan Parr has nine caps for Norway but has not featured in an international game since coming on as a substitute in a 2-0 friendly defeat to Ukraine in February 2013.
Injuries have played their part in restricting Parr’s progress, especially during his time at Crystal Palace, and the 25-year-old, who is equally comfortable in both full-back positions, is not in Per-Mathias Høgmo’s squad for tonight’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Malta and won’t feature in Monday’s home clash with Bulgaria.
Parr made his name as a left-back in Norway, having been forced to play there following an injury crisis at former club Aalesund, but has found his path to the Norway first XI restricted by record cap-holder, former Liverpool full-back, John Arne Riise, who has now retired from the international set-up.
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“In one way it has been great for me, playing my first games for Norway and being able to learn from him (Riise),” said Parr, who signed his first professional deal as a striker, playing for Lyn Oslo.
“He is not playing there (Norway) at the moment, he has retired from the national team and the position is open to take and I am hoping I can keep on playing well at Ipswich and get my chance.
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“Playing for Norway is an absolute ambition of mine and I have been involved (in the squads) for pretty much the last five years when I have not been injured, but I never really got a chance to play every game or settle in the team.”
Parr’s country, from a footballing perspective, is one in transition and the Ipswich full-back is desperate to help rekindle the fortunes of a nation that dropped as low as 76th in the FIFA rankings last month, and lost their opening qualifier to Italy last month.
“It’s been a couple of tough years for Norway and we have dropped something like 60 positions in the FIFA rankings,” Parr explained.
“It’s not been good at all but we have got a new manager in and a lot of new, young players are coming through so there is kind of a shift taking place between the old players and a new generation.
“That normally takes a bit of time to settle before you get results. Hopefully they (results) will happen in this qualifying campaign but it is a tough group that we are in.
“It doesn’t take much though to turn it around and start getting confidence and we have got some good young players coming through.
“It’s exciting, we are all young players and we can get better. We have a lot of things to work on and how long it will take, it’s difficult to say, but I would like to be part of it.”
Parr has become part of a play-off- chasing Town side that are currently in sixth position in the Championship after 11 games, and has formed a solid back four, along with Luke Chambers, Tyrone Mings and Berra.
However, it could have been a lot different for the likeable defender.
“I was a striker until the age of 18 or 19 and got my first professional contract as a striker,” revealed Parr.
“I then started to play on the wing in a 4-3-3, then 4-4-2, and then just dropped back to full-back when the team had some injuries, and did well.
“It suits me well because I like to get forward from that position and that is a big part of my game.”