Erling Haaland

A Manchester City sports therapist has joined Erling Haaland on international duty for Norway, tasked with monitoring the striker’s routine while away from the Etihad.

Haaland has begun life at City in unstoppable form, scoring 14 goals in ten games and setting new Premier League records for his start in the division. Now, he will spend the next fortnight away with Norway for Nations League fixtures with Slovenia and Serbia.

And it seems City have moved to work with the Norwegian national side to keep Haaland’s fitness a top priority for both club and country, with City sports therapist Mario Pafundi also joining the camp with a brief to monitor Haaland’s training ahead of a return to Premier League action.

Speaking at the start of the camp, Norway manager Stale Solbakken confirmed that Pafundi has joined their set-up as a third therapist on a temporary basis, adding that it was Haaland’s idea.

“As we take in 26-27 players each time, it is a lot for two therapists. We have also been looking for a third therapist. Then Erling made the brilliant suggestion to me that he has a very good therapist,” Solbakken said.

“Now I have talked to him a lot in the last week. That is why we have brought in a third therapist, at least on a temporary basis. It is of course no coincidence that he comes from Manchester City and that Erling is part of it, but he works with the other players as well. He is not just Erling’s man here.’

The Daily Mail report that Pafundi’s role from a City perspective will be to maintain Haaland’s daily routine from the Etihad after he struck up a bond with Haaland since the striker’s arrival at the club.

However, if City wish for Haaland’s game time to be managed for Norway, they may be disappointed, with Solbakken describing his own concerns at Haaland’s playing time recently, and confirming he will not rest his star striker.

“At least it is absolutely certain,” he said when asked if he would lean heavily on Haaland in this week’s fixtures, adding: “I was a bit worried when I saw the last game against Wolverhampton, when he ran around like a fool at 3-0 to make it 4-0.

“He yells and slaps god and every man because he doesn’t get the ball. I screamed ‘calm down, Erling, there are more important games to come.’

“[City] have charged him very well, he has had his minutes of rest. It is often from 70 minutes onwards that the fatigue sets in, we balanced that well even in the last session too.”

And Solbakken confirmed that Haaland could captain his country if Martin Odegaard is not able to play on Saturday vs Slovenia, explaining: “It’s a good player-coach relationship and he is one of my vice captains, so sometimes we need to keep in touch a little bit more.

“Gradually he has grown into that role. When we started it was a little bit difficult because of the pandemic and we couldn’t meet. I was appointed in the middle of all that so it was difficult in the beginning for him to know how to express himself in that role. He is a team player, you can see that on his face.”

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