Victor Palsson says Hibs displays will show Iceland snub up

HIBS kid Victor Palsson today admitted he's been left with a point to prove after suffering the shock of being axed from Iceland's Under-21 squad for this summer's European Championship finals.

Palsson had looked certain to be chosen for the tournament in Denmark as he and his team-mates made history by becoming the first Icelandic side to qualify for the finals of a major competition.

But the 20-year-old was left stunned when told he'd be staying at home, despite having been involved in every qualifying match, including a play-off victory over Scotland.

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Revealing it had taken him a week to get over the disappointment, Palsson revealed he's now determined, through his performances at Easter Road, to show Under-21 boss Eyjolfur Sverrisson he made a mistake in leaving him out.

The next Euro qualifying campaign gets under way in little more than a month - Iceland having been drawn against Azerbaijan, Belgium, England and Norway as they bid to make the 2013 finals in Israel - and Palsson is determined that he will, again, play his part.

The former Liverpool midfielder said: "It was a tough summer. I'd been called back home after Hibs' last game to train with the international team which I did for nearly two weeks.

"I honestly thought I would be involved, I'd played 16 first team matches after my move to Easter Road, I'd been involved in every game in the group stages so I was disappointed and shocked that he left me out."

And Palsson revealed he had no inkling of what was to happen as Sverrisson trimmed his original training squad of 40 to 23. He said: "It was the day he announced the squad, four days before going to Denmark, that he gave me a ring to say I wouldn't be included.

"I found it a bit strange that he didn't pick me but I wasn't really given an explanation as to why. However, there's nothing you can do but about it.

"It was a hard knock to take and, to be honest, it took me about a week to take it in. But now I am refocused, looking forward to doing well with Hibs this season. The next European Under-21 qualifying campaign begins soon and having been the youngest in the last squad I'm eligible again so I want to show the coach he made a mistake in not taking me to Denmark."

Whether Palsson would have made a difference is, of course, a redundant argument, Iceland, tipped as one of the tournament's dark horses, crashing out as they lost their opening matches to Belarus and Switzerland before enjoying the consolation of a victory over the home nation.

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It is a debate, however, which Palsson is unwilling to enter. He said: "At the end of the day, all of the lads in the squad are my friends. I watched the games and I really hoped they would do well. Unfortunately, they did not. It would sound big-headed of me if I was to say it might have been different had I been there. We will never know. But we had a lot of fantastic players there, ten of the guys were full internationalists.

"Now my aim is just to show the manager that I should be his first pick for the next tournament."

Palsson will begin that task tomorrow as Hibs face SPL title favourites Celtic at Easter Road in the opening game of the new season, one which many Easter Road fans are viewing with a degree of trepidation following a tenth place finish last time round. Expectations are certainly lower than this time last summer when the Edinburgh outfit were eyeing European football and emulating the fourth spot they'd claimed in the previous season, the fans' hopes and dreams heavily reliant on a squad of tender years.

Palsson, though, exudes a quiet air of optimism, certain that Colin Calderwood's players can ensure a happier season for their supporters.

He said: "We have a young squad, a lot of players aged 19, 20 or 21. But we also have experienced players, a good blend, I think. It goes without saying that last season was bitterly disappointing, but I think this one will be much better.

"The young lads have been working hard to make a name for themselves, they have done well in pre-season. Everyone is happy, the atmosphere around the players is better but we know there's a lot of hard work ahead of us.

"I don't know how great the expectations are of us but our aim is to get off to a good start although we've got a tough one with Celtic tomorrow."