Norwegian Skard ready for first start

VEMUND Brekke-Skard is ready for the challenge today as he prepares to make his full debut for the Blues at Watford.The Norwegian, who put a teacher-training course on hold to sign professional forms with Ipswich Town, will add to his one and only appearance, 10 minutes as a substitute at Crystal Palace, when he lines up at the start at Vicarage Road this afternoon.

By Derek Davis

VEMUND Brekke-Skard is ready for the challenge today as he prepares to make his full debut for the Blues at Watford.

The Norwegian, who put a teacher-training course on hold to sign professional forms with Ipswich Town, will add to his one and only appearance, 10 minutes as a substitute at Crystal Palace, when he lines up at the start at Vicarage Road this afternoon.

And the 24-year-old, who was plucked from semi-professional obscurity in Brummendal, can't wait to test himself against the third=highest side in the Championship.

He said: “It would be great to play. It is what I have been working so hard for. I hope to do a good job and we know it will be a difficult game at Watford.

“In a way it may be easier against Watford than Brighton, who are struggling at the bottom.

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“There will be less expectation on us and Watford, especially at home, will be more open and attack us, which should suit us.”

Skard joined the Blues after a trial last November but red tape meant he was not eligible to play until the transfer window opened in January.

He underwent a hernia operation in the meantime and has battled to get fully match fit and used to the Championship standard.

Skard admitted it has not been easy but he is beginning to fee the improvement.

He said: “My development has been a little slower than I had hoped for but I have had a good time trying to get better.

“The coaches have worked on my strengths and my weaknesses and I hope to improve even more.

“It was a big step from the reserves to even coming on a s substitute and it was only for 10 minutes, but I feel I'm getting used to the tempo now.”

Skard played well in an impressive 2-1 reserve team win at Norwich a week ago and impressed enough to earn his first start in an anchor role.

He said: “I like to get forward more but I'm very used to playing deep and my job is to sit and play the ball out. I also try to play simple by getting the ball and passing to a Blue shirt and start moves off.”

“It is important for us, and our supporters, to have a good display and to do a lot better than we have done.

“You can feel in the dressing room how much the players are determined to prove how much better they are than we have shown in the past few games.”

Lewis Price will replace the injured Shane Supple, while Jay McEveley returned from his Liverpool home to take his place back in the squad as Chris Casement was forced to miss the trip with a swollen ankle.

Nicky Forster, who scored the late consolation on Saturday, is expected to play a part but will be content with coming off the bench as part of his rehabilitation after a knee operation four months ago.

Alan Lee is struggling with a pelvic problem but has been looking sharper of later after returning from a hamstring and groin injury.

Royle said: “Strictly speaking Nicky is not ready to start. He has only played parts of two games after coming back from two operations so it is unrealistic to expect him to start. But then perhaps we are in an unrealistic situation.”

Kevin Horlock has returned from his loan spell at Doncaster Rovers but will not be involved today.

Watford have been linked by the national press with a £400,000 summer move for Darren Currie ,who still has one year on his current Town deal, but there appears to be little credence to the reports.

Nor does there appear to be much behind reports that Town are one of the clubs interested in Coventry midfielder Stephen Hughes.

With news of a share issue being launched in May to provide Royle with funds for his final year's challenge on promotion, the Blues are now bound to be linked with more players.

The Hornets will be without 21-goal leading scorer Marlon King, who scored in the 1-1 draw at Wolves on Friday but was later sent off.

That result effectively ended Watford's chances of catching Sheffield United, who then went up automatically as Leeds were held to a draw by Reading on Saturday.

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