Norway coach Hege Riise said injured striker Ada Hegerberg is responding well in training ahead of its Women’s World Cup last-16 game against Japan but the team has a luxury of options up front with Sophie Roman Haug also in the running to start.
Former Ballon d’Or winner Hegerberg missed the last game with a groin injury, but Roman Haug deputised up front and grabbed a hat-trick in a 6-0 rout of the Philippines.
Riise said Hegerberg is following a medical plan and will train again later on Friday before they take a call on her involvement.
“The goal is to get her ready for the match, and then we will have to see how ready she will be, whether she can play 90 minutes or shorter,” Riise told reporters.
“We know we have two good number nine target forwards, and that’s a luxury for me as a coach. We’ll see who will be available and playing from the start tomorrow.”
When asked if both Hegerberg and Roman Haug could start together, she said: “You will get the team tomorrow, one hour before the match starts.”
Japan stunned Spain 4-0 in its last game to top Group C after exploiting its high line with lethal counter-attacks, and Riise expects the Asian side to push higher up against Norway.
“Obviously, against Spain, they were counter-attacking. I guess they will play a little bit higher against us. Maybe the picture will be similar, but opposite,” Riise said.
Norway’s Vilde Boe Risa praised Japan’s “amazing pace” and impressive passing abilities but added that they had a weapon of their own in Caroline Graham Hansen.
The Barcelona winger apologised for lashing out when she was dropped to the bench earlier in the tournament, but she has put that behind her to step up for the team and even scored against the Philippines.
“Caroline is an amazing player, she brings a lot to the team. She can create a goal on her own,” Vilde Boe Risa said.
“She has amazing pace with the ball as well. So for her to run with the ball or without the ball, it’s the same pace, which is really impressive.
“Her offensive skills are really good and I’ve never seen a player like her do that before.”
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