June 8, 2018 / 10:44 AM / 4 months ago

INTERVIEW-Soccer-Versatile Christiansen ready for World Cup challenge

STOCKHOLM, June 8 (Reuters) - It took the best part of five years for Andreas Christiansen to finally made his breakthrough at Chelsea and the versatile 22-year-old is ready to show Danish coach Age Hareide that he also deserves to be in his team at the World Cup.

Having managed just one game in his first four years since joining Chelsea as a teenager in 2013, Christiansen, who can slot in across the back or in midfield, played 40 games last term, picking up valuable experience he hopes to take to Russia.

“As long as you have one preferred position, I don’t think it can be a downside that you can play in more positions,” Christiansen told Reuters ahead of Denmark’s final World Cup warm-up game against Mexico in Copenhagen on Saturday.

“If you don’t have a preferred position it’s not good, because then you’re not going to be first choice at anything.

“I’m a little bit of both, but I think it just increases my chances of getting some playing time. I see it as a positive thing.”

Even if he has played in several positions for club and country, Christiansen believes Hareide has no doubts about where he should be deployed.

“I think everyone knows and has a clear idea of what he thinks of me — he sees me as a centre-back for sure, with some abilities,” he added.

“Against Ireland (in the World Cup playoff) I played at right back but I know what he sees me as and I think everyone else does as well,” he said.

CHILDHOOD MEMORIES

He scored his only international goal in Denmark’s 5-1 thrashing of Ireland in Dublin last November, scuffing a shot against the post that bounced into the net off home defender Cyrus Christie.

With Andreas Bjelland missing due to injury, Christiansen is likely to be paired with Sevilla’s Simon Kjaer in central defence as Denmark take on Peru, Australia and France in Group C.

The young Dane, who spent two seasons learning his craft on loan at Borussia Moenchengladbach in Germany’s Bundesliga, was 14 the last time Denmark played at a World Cup finals in 2010.

“As a kid, you want to experience everything about the national team, you look up to them, When I was little, I used to go to see them train and watch the games, and now I’m the one playing them,” he said.

Asked if he had set himself any goals for the World Cup, Christiansen kept it simple.

“You want to play as much as possible, but it’s a little bit different with the national team. You don’t feel disappointed in the same way if you don’t play because you want the best thing for your country,” he said.

“Just going to the World Cup is a massive thing for us. I don’t really have any goals but I want to play as much as possible and I’m going to do my part in training to show him (coach Hareide) that.” (Reporting by Philip O’Connor; Editing by John O’Brien)

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