Riise eyeing Pompey passport back into international football

Bjorn Helge Riise in friendly action for Pompey against FC Rostov
Bjorn Helge Riise in friendly action for Pompey against FC Rostov
Former Pompey player Eoin Hand, right

Pompey favourite at Fratton Park to sign autobiography

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On Tuesday night, football lovers in Norway will be gathering around the television.

Egil Olsen’s side are to face Cyprus in Oslo in a crucial Euro 2012 Championship qualifier.

Among those watching at home will be Bjorn Helge Riise.

It’s the first time in five years that the on-loan Pompey player has not been part of Norway’s international squad.

Axed because of a lack of domestic action, for once he will join the nation in effectively spectating from the stands.

For the 28-year-old, Riise’s move to Fratton Park represents the opportunity to ensure it’s an international absence which is nothing more than a blip.

Out-of-favour at Fulham, he has landed at the Blues on an emergency loan until November at the earliest, desperate for first-team action.

Riise has already chalked up three matches in less than two weeks at his temporary home. Still, on Tuesday, Norway host their final group H fixture, with a win essential if they are to maintain a challenge with Denmark and Portugal for an automatic qualification place at the finals.

Riise, who has 31 caps, will be there with his nose pressed against the window.

Extra motivation, if ever it was required, to make an impact during his Pompey loan spell.

He said: ‘I have played every game in the past five years – not this one, though.

‘I was taken out with the squad for our last match against Denmark and didn’t play.

‘This time I didn’t even make the squad.

‘That’s why I need to play regular football. I don’t want to keep missing playing for the national team.

‘The manager (Olsen) told me I need to be playing regular football. He can’t take me out there if I’m not.

‘When you consider all the players in Norway playing every weekend, he told me if he selects me and not them, then it’s not fair.

‘So Erik (Huseklepp) is with Norway at the moment and I am not.

‘I had a feeling this would happen. Me and the gaffer (Olsen) have been talking for weeks about me not playing.

‘The good thing is I am here with the guys at Portsmouth, played in a friendly and have the weekend off with my family.

‘My missus is also happy. It’s the first time in five years I will be at home when there is an international match on.

‘I will be watching it on the television, I get Norwegian TV in my house.

‘But I don’t want to make that a habit. I love playing football games. When I do I am happy.

‘It is really important I play regularly and play well to get back into the squad – and that is what I intend to do here.’

Riise has made just five Premier League starts since his £2m transfer to Fulham from Lillestrom in the summer of 2009.

It reflects a frustrating Craven Cottage spell for the midfielder, who spent time on loan at Sheffield United last season.

He last featured for Fulham in their Europa League qualification programme back in July – only to not play once the Premier League season began.

Clearly, there is no future for him under Martin Jol, and he’s hoping something can come out of his south-coast stay.

Riise added: ‘I’m loving it here. I knew it was a big club and I’m enjoying it.

‘This is my last year of my contract at Fulham so hopefully I can do good here. I really like this club.

‘My loan deal can be extended, but it is all up to me to play good football and see what happens.

‘The first game against Peterborough I did all right, but against Leeds I was awful, to be fair.

‘I don’t want to play like that but some games are difficult.

‘However, the more games I play the better I will get.

‘I am getting to know the team more, the lads and how they are playing.

‘It’s good for me. Hopefully, I can improve with each game.’