Warnock’s blunt message to Iceland
CARDIFF City are on the brink of another club-v-country row with Iceland after Neil Warnock delivered the Euro 2016 heroes a blunt warning over Aron Gunnarsson’s fitness.
And the veteran boss is demanding a written agreement from the World Cup hopefuls that they will pay compensation if they gamble with the already injured star.
Warnock already has a frosty relationship with Iceland boss Heimir Hallgrímsson over the way they’ve used their captain in the past.
And the Bluebirds boss has now issued Iceland with a uncompromising message over the risks of playing midfielder Gunnarsson in their crunch World Cup qualifiers with Turkey and Kosovo next week.
Gunnarsson missed Tuesday night’s win over Leeds with a tear in his thigh and has already been ruled out of Saturday’s visit of Derby County.
But despite Warnock saying he does not want Gunnarsson to report for international duty, Iceland have called up their 73-cap skipper and are demanding he arrives in Helsinki so he can be assessed by the national side’s medics.
Gunnarsson will travel with the words of Warnock ringing in his ear – even reminding him he is out of contract at the end of the season – and has urged Iceland’s Hallgrimsson to use caution with the 28-year-old, despite their need for victories to reach Russia.
Iceland are level on points with Croatia at the top of Group I, but with Turkey and Ukraine only two points behind they face a crunch fortnight, and Watnock said: “Gunnars will travel to Iceland because they want their own medical people to see him, which we’re not really happy about.
“He has a tear between his hip and thigh which you can see on the scan we have. It’s getting better but to play two top games like that when he’s not fit to play for us on Saturday, well I don’t think he should be travelling.
“It’s such an important game for them these two, they’re really crucial, but if they play him and he (tears it again) we’ll be very, very annoyed.
“So we’ll make sure we send all the medical evidence over, and if they play him we want a written agreement that if they see the scans it’s got to be their responsibility to pay his wages (if he is injured). I don’t see why we should if they gamble on him.”
Gunnarsson was due for further scans on Friday, with Warnock adding he has told the energetic midfielder his thoughts.
Warnock, who is hopeful Joe Ralls can recover from injury to face Derby with Craig Bryson unable to play against his parent club, said: “We have no choice in this. They want to see him. I’m sure they’ll try him to get to play on one leg, because that’s how he is, but I’d be very, very disappointed.
“I’ve let Gunnars know about how I feel about the situation.
“He’s their captain isn’t he, but if he rips it completely and his contract’s up it’s not going to be very good for himself is it.
“He’ll play on one leg, it’s his country, they are important games, so I understand where the manager is coming from – but the scans don’t lie, our doctor has spoken to theirs and they have to look at the bigger picture.
“I don’t think he’s far away – he’ll be ready after the international break – but if he’s not fit Saturday then to play first game in an intense session, I think it’s too much for me.”
Warnock previously hit out at Iceland for not resting Gunnarsson for a friendly against Ireland when the likes of former Swansea star Gylfi Sigurdsson were excused, claiming it affected his performance as the Bluebirds lost to Wolves last March.
And the 68-year-old also had a dig at Iceland’s long preparations for their summer qualifiers, saying it wasn’t allowing last season’s player of the year to get sufficient rest following a marathon Championship campaign.
Neil Warnock’s frosty relationship with Iceland is set to be tested again after the Cardiff City boss delivered a no-nonsense warning to the Euro 2016 stars over Aron Gunnarsson’s fitness.
Warnock has previously hit out at Iceland boss Heimir Hallgrímsson