Huseklepp’s moment of class bodes well for Norris

Erik Huseklepp
Erik Huseklepp
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With the clock striking 60 minutes, Upton Park was treated to a moment of genuine class.

Fed by Luke Varney, Erik Huseklepp cut inside Joey O’Brien to break into the left-hand side of West Ham’s penalty area.

The Norwegian international took one touch before delivering a sublime right-footed cross to the far post.

David Norris did the rest with his head, even if the desperate Winston Reid did his best to keep the ball out.

Benjani Mwaruwari followed up to make sure as the Blues levelled at 2-2.

Regardless of that intervention, it was Norris’ goal and it was Huseklepp’s assist.

That creative touch was another glimpse of what the 27-year-old Huseklepp can offer Pompey as he continues to adjust to the English game.

An eye-catching Ashton Gate cameo was followed by a disappointing Fratton debut in a central striking role.

On Saturday he was asked to play wide on the right, with Liam Lawrence instead moving inside.

Norris was among those who were subsequently impressed with Huseklepp’s contribution in Pompey’s 4-3 defeat.

He is adamant the former Bari forward is improving all the time.

And the goalscorer believes Huseklepp can continue to weigh in with the assists whenever called in to the Pompey side.

Norris said: ‘That was a great ball into the box, it really was.

‘Erik has got that, whether it is with his left foot or right foot – and we are starting to see more and more from him.

‘He hit the perfect area for me.

‘It was a fantastic delivery and got us back into the game at that stage.

‘Erik is tricky, he’s quick, and we have seen enough of him in training to know he can produce moments like that all of the time.

‘He will be a good asset for us, I am absolutely certain of that.

‘For me, I’m really impressed with the versatility he offers. He was playing on the right but that assist came from the left.

‘That’s how he operates, though – he can be on both wings.

‘Erik can come inside, he can go outside, he can hit it with both feet. He’s got such great quality.

‘Once he’s out there on a one-on-one he is very, very difficult to stop.

‘It is always going to take him time to adjust, but he’s getting there.’

Steve Cotterill is still weighing up the ideal role for his £1.5m recruit.

Huseklepp has often been given a free role behind a main striker for his country.

He has also been employed on the right or left flanks, where his pace and ability to run at defenders can be fully utilised.

However, there is the capacity for Huseklepp to leave the full-backs behind him exposed through his attacking tendencies.

Having been at Fratton Park for only three weeks, these are still early days.

Yet Norris believes there were signs at Upton Park the ex-Brann player is also adjusting to the defensive requirements.

There was a moment early in the second half when Huseklepp pursued George McCartney the length of the Hammer’s left flank.

Ultimately, he produced a timely interception alongside the penalty area, knocking the ball out for a throw in.

And for Norris, it demonstrated a new side to Huseklepp’s game.

He added: ‘Erik has started to add a little bit to his defensive side and is tracking back.

‘There was one moment in particular in the second half when he showed that.

‘A couple of times in his first two games he might not have done that.

‘But as he gets used to the way this league is, that will come.

‘He’s got the fitness and the speed to track back.

‘It’s just something he has got to get used to.’