MORTEN Gamst Pedersen has expressed his determination to show compatriot Henning Berg that he is worth a regular place in the Blackburn Rovers side.
Pedersen’s start at Burnley on Sunday was only his second in the seven games since Berg took over as boss and the midfielder (pictured left) may have to fend off competition from another Norwegian, Josh King, for a place in the starting line-up when Rovers host Championship leaders Cardiff City tonight.
King impressed when he replaced the 31-year-old as a 55th-minute substitute at Turf Moor but Pedersen is eager to secure regular football under Berg, despite admitting he did not produce his best display against Burnley or when he started the manager’s first game in charge at Crystal Palace.
“Of course, I want to play more, everybody wants to play,” said Pedersen. “For me it wasn’t my best game against Burnley or Palace but they were two tough games for us.
“When I’ve got on I’ve been doing well so you just have to try when you get the chance to show that you are good enough.
“If you ask a player if he wants to play he will say yes and he will not be happy to sit on the bench.
“I think that is the right attitude as a player. If you don’t have that there’s something wrong. You’re not going to be happy to sit on the bench, you’re going to be a little bit angry that you’re not involved.
“The most important thing is that we win games. We have a tough game now against Cardiff and it will be a good test for us.”
Pedersen grew up watching Berg play for the Norway national team and admits his own international ambitions will also be reliant on playing games – even if he knows helping Rovers revive their promotion challenge is the number one priority.
“To be honest I didn’t look so much at the defenders, it was more the players in front of him that I admired more!” admitted the midfielder, who has 74 caps for his country – only 26 less than the Rovers boss.
“But it’s a small country and when you get players who win the league with Blackburn, everybody knew who he was. He was probably one of the best defenders that Norway had when they did well.
“Of course I know I won’t get in the national team now sitting on the bench. But there are no games for a long time now so I just want to play, that’s the main thing.
“The most important thing is to get points here.”
Rovers have taken only six points from Berg’s first seven matches to slip to ninth in the table, four points from the play-off spots and 12 points behind Cardiff. But Pedersen believes Rovers still have the quality to go up.
“Of course we have the quality but when you are losing the code you have to get everything to click and get things working,” he said.
“We know when things work that we are really good. At Leeds in the first half, we should have been 4-0 up that day and we were unlucky not to be.
“But we can’t think that we are better than we are, we just have to work hard.
“Even if we finish sixth, as long as we go up that is the main thing. But it would be really nice to get one of the automatic promotion places.
“We are 12 points behind Cardiff, to win it would close the gap to nine and if we win the next game and they lose it is six. If you get back to back wins you can fly up the table.”
- Andre Villas-Boas again insisted that he wanted to keep Brad Friedel at Tottenham ahead of their Europa League match against Panathinaikos last night. Friedel has been linked with a January return to Rovers but Villas-Boas says the American remains in competition with Hugo Lloris for a place in Spurs’ Premier League starting line-up.
“We are trying to hold on to our best assets and Brad is certainly one of them,” Villas-Boas said.