Jonsson credits Frail for first national call-up

EGGERT JONSSON today dedicated his first call-up to the full Iceland national squad to Hearts assistant coach Stephen Frail.

The 19-year-old has been drafted into his country's full squad for their final Euro 2008 qualifier against Denmark next week after successfully establishing himself in the first team at Tynecastle this season.

The Icelander has featured in Hearts' last eight matches, starting six, and, in that period, has struck up an understanding with team-mate Michael Stewart which belies his years.

His performances have brought comparisons with Frenchman Julien Brellier, who occupied a similar role in the middle of the park during his time at Tynecastle, and Frail has been quick to praise the youngster for his contribution to the team both in pre-season and in the 11 league and cup matches he has played in so far.

However Jonsson revealed that the Hearts coach, who spotted the midfielder three years ago when he was playing for Iceland under-17s, has been a huge influence over him since signing for the club as a 16-year-old.

And he believes that he has the former defender to thank for helping him win his international call-up. He said: "Any player likes to hear their coach say good things about them and I'm no different.

"He's been really good with me since I arrived at the club and he's been my coach since I came here. I was in his under-19s team and now I'm in the first team.

"He's a great man and a great coach. I'd really like to thank him for everything he has done for me in the two-and-a-half years I've been here. A lot of what I have done so far, including the international call-up, has been down to him. He's been a massive influence."

A number of Jonsson's former under-19 team-mates are expected to be involved when Hearts take on Raith Rovers at Stark's Park in a friendly match tonight.

Frail believes the game will be a valuable exercise for the youths and for the senior players who have been unable to hold down a regular starting place this season.

And he's looking forward to locking horns with his predecessor at Tynecastle, former Hearts coach John McGlynn, who is now boss of the Kirkcaldy side.

He said: "Some of the younger lads will play tonight and the match will also give us the opportunity to give a run-out to some of the senior players who have not featured recently.

"It'll be about fitness really but it will give us a chance to take a closer look at some of the lads.

"We're looking forward to it and it's a game that will keep the boys ticking over during the international break.

"It's an important match for us and it will be good to see John McGlynn again."

The clash, which is pay at the gate with admission priced at 10 for adults and 5 for concessions, kicks off at 7.45pm.