Hermann raring to go for Blues

SPARE a thought for Stoke City's Bjarni Gudjonsson this afternoon.

SPARE a thought for Stoke City's Bjarni Gudjonsson this afternoon, writes Derek Davis.

He will be directly in the path of unleashed polar bear Hermann Hreidarsson, who is raring to go after being starved of action for four games.

Admittedly the Hermannator has promised to control the aggression that rises within him every time he crosses the white line - but he is still a frightening sight for the opposition when going full pelt up Town's left flank.

Blues boss Joe Royle has already told Hreidarsson he will start, and added: “The big man has been awesome in training, I'm glad he is playing now because he is ready to explode.”

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International team-mate Gudjonsson is expected to be in Stoke's right side of midfield with either Wayne Thomas or Frazer Richardson, depending on the formers injury woes, covering at left back, in a 4-4-2 formation and Hreidarsson can't wait to get stuck into them.

He said: “It has been very frustrating. I have been working hard but when you don't have a game at the end of it things can be difficult.

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“The boys have done really well in the last couple of games but I'm desperate to play, to be involved. I'm raring to go but I know I have to control my aggression - as normal.”

Hreidarsson was dismissed at Bradford for violent conduct, and coupled with five bookings, was banned for four matches.

The 28-year-old, who was a club record signing from Wimbledon is one of the nicest guys you could meet off the pitch, but Gudjonsson and Brynjar Gunnarsson will not need to be told of his 100% commitment in a game.

The trio are seasoned internationals for Iceland, who need to beat Scotland in the European Championship qualifiers to keep alive their hopes of going to Portugal next year.

Hreidarsson said: “Gunnarsson is probably Stoke's best player and along with Bjarni, who has been a bit in and out, are two players I rate very highly.

“We know Stoke will be dangerous, they are like a wounded animal down there near the bottom so we can not take them lightly.

“There have been two good results in the past week, a win at Norwich and then a draw at Wolves but we know we have to be at our best once again.”

The Icelander had a special word of praise for Matt Richards, who deputised as a wing-back in the past two games.

Hreidarsson said: “Matt was an absolute top man. All credit to him for coming in and doing so well. He has shown he is good enough and ready for first team football at this level.

“Special credit to him, he did superbly. It shows that we have a lot of good kids who are ready to come in.

“We have a good mixture of experience and youngsters which has added to the competition for places. No one can afford to be a passenger and they have to be at their best every game.”

Town know any slip from now until the end of the season could kill their play-off hopes, but they also know closing the gap of seven points, with a game in hand over sixth-placed Wolves, is not an impossible dream.

Hreidarsson said: “Reading have shown if you win a few games on the trot you can fly up this table. They won five out of six and have gone third so we know if we can put a similar run together we can be in there.

“The gap is big and it is a challenge but we fancy our chances and we are up for the challenge.”

The Potters are owned by an Icelandic business consortium, which means their games are often well-publicised back home.

Hreidarsson added: “Stoke are well supported in Iceland because they are shown on television there a lot.

“They used to have an Icelandic manager and about five players and of course the owners, so there was a lot of interest.

“I know a few people who like them but there are also plenty of people who want Ipswich to win.”

Hreidarsson, who has started 100 league games for Town, has not yet scored this season. A goal is due and boy is he hungry.


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