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Haaland plays down injury concerns and reveals message from Guardiola ahead of joining Norway squad

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OSLO, Norway (AP) — Erling Haaland played down concerns he sustained an injury in training with Norway this week — and revealed a message he was sent by Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola before going away on international duty.

Haaland has linked up with his national team ahead of friendly matches against the Czech Republic on Friday and Slovakia on Tuesday.

Footage from a Norway training session on Tuesday showed Haaland in apparent pain, even if the Norwegian team doctor said afterward there was no problem with the striker’s fitness.

Speaking at a news conference in Oslo on Thursday, Haaland said he was “feeling fine.”

“I didn’t walk off the training — I don’t know who wrote that,” he said in English. “I trained the full training and I‘m feeling good and ready to play the game.”

Guardiola will be hoping Haaland comes through Norway’s games unscathed, with City facing a run of big matches after the international break in its bid to win the English Premier League-FA Cup-Champions League treble for the second straight season.

Indeed, City plays Arsenal, one of its rivals for the Premier League title, in their first game back on March 31.

Haaland, the top scorer in the Premier League last season and this season so far, has already missed nearly two months of this season because of a foot injury.

“The only thing Pep said,” Haaland said cheerfully in quotes carried by Norwegian newspaper VG, “was, ‘If you’re not well when you come back, I’ll come after you.’”

Haaland referenced the challenge of playing so many games for club and country each season, with the March international break coming at an awkward time for club managers ahead of the final weeks of the domestic seasons.

“It’s nice to play for the country,” Haaland said in VG. “But facing Arsenal next weekend versus (playing) the Czech Republic at home is different. I’m not going to lie. There’s a big difference.

“But what do you do? There are as many games as possible on the calendar. That seems to be the goal.”

Norway hasn’t qualified for the European Championship being played in Germany across June and July.

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

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