BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
Niklas Gunnarsson has set his sights on a dream league and cup double after joining Hibernian on loan for the rest of the season.
The Norwegian defender completed his switch from Valerenga in his homeland following a similar temporary spell with Elfsborg in Sweden.
The 24-year-old joins striker Chris Dagnall in beefing up Alan Stubbs’ squad since the transfer window opened and has vowed to do all he can to bring success to Easter Road.
The Norway under-23 cap trained with his new team-mates yesterday and, having suffered homesickness during a stint with Walsall in his teenage years, is confident he will feel right at home in the capital.
With Hibs in the League Cup semi-finals and challenging Rangers and Falkirk for the Championship title, Gunnarsson said: “My first impressions have been really good and I think I will have a good time here.
“After meeting the lads in the team and in the administration around the club it feels like a real family club and it feels good.
“I spoke with the gaffer on Monday and he said I’m coming to a team with a lot of young talent, a good team, a strong team, that should be in the Premiership.
“My role with be to provide competition to make it even better, to try my best, and when I get the opportunity I have to take it.
“The squad looks really good. The level here is good and it’s also very tough. The Scottish mentality is very similar to the Norwegian one – tough and aggressive. So, it will suit me fine.
“Hopefully I will experience a lot of happiness, to maybe be in the final of the cup, and it would be amazing to also win the league.
“I know that Rangers are three points ahead and Falkirk are ahead on goal difference, having played one game more.
“So, it would be unbelievable to be around a club that is fighting to go up to the Premiership.”
After returning from Walsall to Odd in Norway, Gunnarsson moved to Valerenga in 2014 and has played against both Henri Anier and Liam Henderson during his time in his homeland.
And, with the possibility of a permanent deal next summer, he is hopeful of making a big impression during his time in Edinburgh.
The versatile right-back added on Hibernian TV: “I went to Walsall when I was 16, 17 and I was there for six months, but I was maybe too young to go there alone. After six months I wanted to go back to my family and friends.
“Since then I’ve played some games for the national team and played over 100 games at the highest level in Norway and Sweden, so for me it’s been a good couple of years.
“First of all I’m a defender, but I like to be offensive. But I’m a team player; for me it doesn’t matter who scores or who gets the assist, I just want to win the games.
“I love winning and also I have a trademark for long throw-ins – that has been my thing in both Norway and Sweden.
“After that I’m a stable, solid defender, good in on-on-ones, and I try to do my best all the time.”
Stubbs is thrilled to have added the defensive and striking options he wanted so early in the transfer window.
And the Easter Road boss believes both Gunnarsson and marksman Chris Dagnall will have a role to play as Hibs seek league and cup success in the remainder of the campaign.
He said: “I am delighted to have Niklas join the squad. We have been working hard on our January targets for a while now and it’s great to have the two new players in so early in the window.
“We wanted to bring in a defender and striker and have done so within the first week of January.
“They will both be strong additions to the squad and I expect them to contribute in the second half of the season.”