By Luke Baker
IPSWICH aren’t struggling for goals at the moment but if the Tractor Boys do find themselves short of firepower, they could call on their secret weapon.
Jonathan Parr may be keeping the opposition at bay as a full-back, but it wasn’t long ago that the defender was leading the line in his native Norway.
The 25- year-old played up front throughout a youth career that included stops at KFUM Oslo, Hauger FK and Lyn – and only an injury crisis in the lead-up to his 20th birthday brought a move backwards.
On joining Ipswich from Crystal Palace in the summer, Parr was considered a natural replacement for West Ham-bound left-back Aaron Cresswell – although he has been starting at right-back this year as Tyrone Mings locks down the left-hand side of Ipswich’s back four.
But until recently Parr admits he was aiming to emulate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rather than John Arne Riise.
“I played as a striker until I was about 19,” he said. “I played seven games and scored four goals for the Norway U19 team so I probably should have stuck as a striker!
“It was one of those things that just happened – I started playing a bit as a winger and then we got an injury at full-back.
“I had to step in, I did well and stayed there – it suited me because I could use my pace and stamina to get up and down the pitch.
“It felt good, I became even more comfortable over time and I’ve improved since.”
Parr doesn’t appear to have lost his predatory instincts just yet, though, as he notched his first goal in Ipswich colours against Brighton in September.
But the Norwegian is targeting clean sheets these days as Ipswich make their assault on promotion. Having tasted the highest level of English football during 15 top-flight appearances for Palace last season, Parr says he’s desperate to return with the Tractor Boys.
“In Norway you grow up watching English football,” he added. “It’s the league that is shown on TV and everyone watches.
“So it was always a goal for me to play in England and getting to play in the Premier League last season was a big thing. I want to get back there – and hopefully we can.
“Growing up, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and John Arne Riise, below, were role models.
“They showed that even if you’re from Norway it’s possible to do well in one of the best leagues in the world.”
Riise’s retirement from the international game, after 110 caps, in May last year has opened the way for Parr to make his comeback.
Parr has nine caps for Norway but has not featured since coming on as a substitute in a 2-0 friendly defeat to Ukraine in February 2013.
“A big goal of mine is to get back into that international set-up,” continued Parr. “If I keep playing well for Ipswich I will get my chance.”