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Millwall feeling play-off heat – but striker nicknamed Ice Cube wants to make impact at Barnsley

BY TOBY PORTER
toby@slpmedia.co.uk

Jon Dadi Bodvarsson gets called Ice Cube by his team-mates – and probably not because of any resemblance to a gangsta rapper of that name.

But he is more like a Viking – that was, after all, the name of the Icelandic attacker’s first professional club in Norway.

So, like the original Scandinavian pillagers, he might be hoping to maraud through Yorkshire  tomorrow when the Lions visit Barnsley looking for a first win after the restart.

The 28-year-old scored in the dying seconds of last weekend’s 3-2 defeat by Derby – his fifth goal of the season.

So he is hoping to feature.

But it has been difficult to hold down a regular place this season.

He has made 15 starts and 13 substitute appearances in league games this campaign, despite being available almost every week.

“I’ve been really lucky with injuries this season,” he said. “Hopefully there will be none for the rest of the season – touch wood.

“Last season at Reading was a nightmare. I was injured all the way through. But this year I’ve just had niggles and nothing serious so far.

“I’ve been a professional many years and it is challenging when you’re not starting games. You want to have consistent appearances – not play one game and be on the bench for the next. I try to be as professional as possible. It’s a good squad – we have competition for places. And  Matt Smith has been brilliant, scoring a lot of vital goals.

“We have a wide range of skills in the squad, like Tom Bradshaw – and the manager has a lot to choose from for different types of games.

“As a footballer you want to play every game. But you have to respect the squad you’re in and play when asked – whether it’s 10 minutes or 90.

“Our schedule is crazy, playing Saturdays and Tuesdays and we do not have a big squad – so it will be interesting to see how it’s going to be for all teams. It means I can play more games – that is more positive for me. But it also means you will see some strange results in these last few games.

“The most disappointing thing about our defeat by Derby was that we didn’t look like ourselves – how we have been the whole season. We have been aggressive defensively and kept a very solid shape and scored regularly. Everyone in the group knows it was a bad result.

“You don’t want to start the season again with a loss – but we are at least pleased to have got the first game done and have it in our legs. Hopefully it is upwards from here.

“Barnsley will be a tough game. We have to be confident but every game in the Championship is so different. We know it will be hard. We will be focused and ready to go.”

Bodvarsson is perhaps unlucky that he is not seen as as a full-time striker because he can play on the wing as well.

He said: “I was always on the wing when I was growing up but when I became a professional the manager said to me: ‘You’re more of a centre-forward’. I’ve been trying to improve for that position every single day since then.

“If I am up front I like to have another striker alongside me – though I don’t mind being alone.

“The Iceland national team plays 4-4-2 most of the time and I’ve been playing with Arnor Ingvi Traustason for some years and it has been quite successful.”

Bodvarsson contemplated going back to Iceland during lockdown, where the coronavirus death rate is half that of the UK.

“But there’s only one airline –  which could have gone bust at any time,” he said. “I didn’t want to go home and then get stuck – so I had to stay in Bromley.

“My missus and 17-month-old daughter Sunneva have been back home for three weeks now. I won’t get to see them now until the season is finished.”

Pitches are getting harder in the summer heat but that is something Bodvarsson is more used to – if only because in Iceland the pictures can be frozen solid.

“Whenever it is cold outside all the lads say I should be used to it,” he said. “I get a lot of corny stuff like that. I feel like saying: ‘No – I’ve never heard that one before!’”

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