By Eivind Aarre
Vålerenga IF centre-half Erik Hagen was the big surprise when Norway coach Åge Hareide announced his squad for the games against Scotland and Slovenia.
"I chose Hagen because he showed he can handle games against British sides when Vålerenga played Newcastle [United FC] in the UEFA Cup," said Hareide. The uncapped 29-year-old featured in both legs of the third-round tie against the Premiership team last spring, notably scoring in the 3-1 defeat at St James' Park which meant a 4-2 aggregate loss.
There are also two new midfield players in the squad, Hagen's club colleague Ardian Gashi and 1. FC Nürnberg's Tommy Svindal Larsen. "
We need to be more aggressive in midfield, and Tommy can help in that respect," the coach said. Norway have made a slow start in Group 5, losing 2-1 in Italy and then drawing 1-1 at home against Belarus last month. They travel to Glasgow to take on the Scots on 9 October before welcoming Slovenia to Oslo four days later.
E Johnsen (Rosenborg BK), Myhre (Sunderland AFC), Bergdølmo (BV Borussia Dortmund), Hagen (Vålerenga IF), Høiland (Malmö FF), Lundekvam (Southampton FC), Riise (Liverpool FC), Riseth (Rosenborg BK), Soma (SK Brann), Andresen (Stabæk IL), Gashi (Vålerenga IF), Svindal Larsen (1. FC Nürnberg), Hoset (FC København), Iversen (Vålerenga IF), Gamst Pedersen (Blackburn FC), Rudi (Molde FK), Solli (Rosenborg BK), Strand (Rosenborg BK), Sørensen (SFK Lyn), Carew (Besiktas JK), F Johnsen (Rosenborg BK), Rushfeldt (FK Austria Wien).
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