Grp E: Fernandes called up for Norway clash

Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld has called up Freiburg midfielder Gelson Fernandes for the Group E leaders' World Cup qualifier against Norway.

Gelson Fernandes of Udinese

The 27-year-old has been selected to replace injured Pirmin Schwegler, who underwent surgery over the weekend after sustaining knee ligament damage during training with the national squad and subsequently missed Friday night's 4-4 draw against Iceland in Bern.

Former Manchester City midfielder Fernandes took part in a friendly match for Freiburg on Friday before listening to Switzerland's clash with Iceland, and admitted he was disappointed they lost their 4-1 lead and conceded late on.

He told the Swiss Football Association's official website: "I followed the game against Iceland on the radio on the way to the team hotel to Feusisberg.

"It was difficult for me to hear how Iceland got back in the game and then equalised (in the first minute of second-half stoppage time)."

Fernandes, who has 42 caps, linked up with the squad for training in Jonah on Saturday and hopes to make an impression on Tuesday night for Switzerland, who hold a four-point lead over their second-placed opponents.

Ahead of the Oslo clash, Fernandes added: "The whole team was frustrated and disappointed that it wasn't enough to get more than one point.

"But the team has to respect the game against Norway that is still important.

"It is a joy to be with the team for the great goal of qualifying for the World Cup.

"Above all I hope to make a contribution for my team so we are able to achieve something together."

Norway coach Egil Olsen could be without Fredrik Semb Berge for the match, but there was better news regarding Havard Nordtveit and Marcus Pedersen as both players returned to training on Sunday.

Twenty-three-year-old defender Berge, who made his full debut earlier this year in a 1-0 friendly victory over South Africa, has been suffering from a sickness bug.

Tarik El Younoussi and Blackburn's Josh King were on target as Norway beat Cyprus 2-0 in Oslo on Friday and they are holding on to outside hopes of gatecrashing the play-offs.

Albania - currently third in the table after dropping down from second after Friday's 1-0 defeat to Slovenia - travel to Iceland in what is likely to be a close encounter.

Both sides are still in the play-off shake-up, tied on 10 points in the Group E standings, and Iceland could use home advantage in their favour after claiming a 2-1 victory over Tuesday night's opponents in October's meeting in Tirana.

Iceland manager Lars Lagerback has added Paul Hauk Sigurdsson to his squad following the 4-4 draw in Switzerland on Friday but will be without both Emil Hallfredsson and Gunnar Heidar Thorvaldsson, who have withdrawn due to injury.

In the other Group E clash, bottom side Cyprus host second-bottom Slovenia, who sit five points above them in the table.

October's corresponding fixture saw Slovenia beat their opponents 2-1 in Maribor, a result Cyprus will be aiming to overcome as the battle at the bottom takes place in the heat of Nicosia on Tuesday.

But coach Srecko Katanec believes his side will be ready despite the hot temperatures, and he told www.nzs.si: "Let's try to win but it will not be easy because of the circumstances.

"I heard that it is very hot there."

Midfielder Jasmin Kurtic echoed his manager's thoughts and believes Friday's 1-0 win over Albania was a big boost for his country.

He added: "In Cyprus we will go for the win. The match with Albania should inspire us for more games to keep up the fighting spirit."



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