In a new monthly feature, we compile the best XI players and a handful of other star performers in the 2017 OBOS Ligaen for a ‘Team of the Month’. Comment below with your choices; Have we missed anyone, or is there a player worthy of a special mention after a star performance?

Photo: Ull/Kisa official.

Goalkeeper – Nicklas Frenderup (Floro)

I have to say, I did not expect much from Floro keeper Nicklas Frenderup going into this season. On paper, the Floro number 1 looks too inexperienced to be competing effectively in Norway’s second tier and yet I have been pleasantly surprised by what I have seen.

A great shot stopper, Frenderup has kept Floro in matches they would otherwise have been behind in multiple times in April and is a key reason why the side have picked up 4 points from their opening 5 games.

Frenderup’s distribution has also been excellent on the whole this year. His ability to start counter attacks from the back is so important to his side.

Right Back – Mads Hansen (Mjondalen)

Hansen has been quietly effective in April with Mjondalen conceding just 4 goals in their 5 games so far this season.

Hansen was a natural winger prior to last year, when manager Vegard Hansen asked him to fill in at right full back. It was not a position the player was well versed in but he was effective last season and on the whole did okay.

This year, the level of his performances have risen as Hansen gets more used to the right back role. Hansen is now contributing effectively to both offensive and defensive plays and has been so crucial for Mjondalen in their impressive start to the season.

Centre Back – Martin Bjornbak (Bodo/Glimt)

Martin Bjornbak has been a rock so far this season for Glimt and has easily been their stand out player in the campaign so far.

He is clearly the best centre back at this level and it would not surprise me to see him ending up in a full Team of the Year come the end of the season. His performances against Fredrikstad and Elverum in particular stand out, whilst he also had a decent game in the recent match against Start (despite getting himself stupidly sent off late on).

Centre Back – Christian Eggen Rismark (Ranheim)

Rismark’s game has gone from strength to strength so far this season. After a so so 2016 season in which the player was in and out of the squad, 2017 seems to be more fruitful for the new Ranheim captain.

I have had my doubts about Rismark but they have all been eased in these first 5 games of the season. I doubted whether Rismark could take on the captaincy effectively when he was barely a regular in the XI the season prior but the players’ ability to organise and control his back four whilst also maintaining good performances from himself has been extremely impressive this season.

It would not be an understatement to say that Rismark has been one of the main reasons as to why Ranheim have started their season so well, with 13 points from their first 5 games.

Left Back – Simon Larsen (IK Start)

I know, I know, Simon Larsen is not a left back. But, there was no other way to squeeze all the good quality OBOS defenders in this month. I was crucified on Twitter a month or so ago for suggesting Simon Larsen was a boring signing. I stand by this statement, whilst at the same time accepting that Larsen has been a great addition to this Start team.

Larsen was handed the captaincy upon his arrival in Kristiansand and it is easy to see why. Similarly to Rismark of Ranheim, his ability to organise a defence at this level is one of the main reasons why on the whole Start have looked defensively solid.

I have my reservations about whether Larsen has what it takes to continue as Start captain in the Eliteserien should they get promoted, but for now, his performances have been quietly impressive and he fully deserves to make the best XI of April.

Right Midfielder – Stian Rasch (Strommen)

In what has been an up & down start to the season for Strommen there has remained one consistent presence in their side, Stian Rasch.

On his day, Rasch can be one of the most exciting players to watch in the league with his ability to effortlessly beat players when playing either out wide or centrally. This season, he has almost been Strommen’s savior by scoring every one of their 3 league goals so far this year.

Fitness may be an issue occasionally for the 30 year old but there is no doubt he has been one of the most influential players in the league for his side this year.

Central Midfielder – Pontus Silfwer (Mjondalen)

An obvious inclusion in the team of the month, Silfwer has settled into life in Norway effortlessly with performances worthy of a much better league.

Like Simon Larsen, Silfwer was handed the captaincy upon his arrival in Mjondalen but this added pressure has only gone to improve his game immeasurably. Silfwer controls games well from the middle and his performances against Fredrikstad and Jerv were almost faultless.

It will be interesting to see whether Silfwer can turn his performances up another notch in the coming months and if he does, he will be a shoe in to make the final OBOS Ligaen Team of the Year.

Midfielder – Niklas Sandberg (Ull/Kisa)

Sandberg is a new signing for Ull/Kisa, having joined from Sandnes after an impressive loan spell with Nest/Sotra last season. Despite being relatively inexperienced at this level he has settled into life at Ull/Kisa effortlessly.

No player in the league has a better return of assists so far in 2017. Sandberg now has 4, after a brace of malgivende’s against Fredrikstad at the weekend.

He has, for me, been the standout in an impressive start to the season for the Ull/Kisa side and is now surely one of the first names on their teamsheet.

Midfielder – Magnus Blakstad (Ranheim)

Magnus Blakstad has struggled immensely in the last couple of years with injury and fitness issues, but is now seemingly free of these restraints and his performances are really glowing as a result.

Blakstad is so key to Ranheim, because he is the one in their midfield willing to do the dirty work and retrieve the ball before looking to start attacks. Reginiussen and Lokberg will always steal the show with their influence on the game but Blakstad is slowly becoming arguably more important than both of them.

His stability has been a key reason behind Ranheim’s resurgence this year and he fully deserves a place in the Team of the Month.

Left Midfielder – Amahl Pellegrino (Mjondalen)

Hard to overlook Pellegrino here, despite having two other Mjondalen players in the team also. He has been in scintillating form at the start of this season with a return of 4 goals and 1 assist in 5 games.

His new role on the left hand side suits Pellegrino to a tee and he is benefiting greatly from the extra space afforded to him out here as opposed to up front where space is generally more limited.

Striker – Niels Vorthoren (IK Start)

The man who ‘Runs like he has no hip’ according to FK Jerv physio Ron Astrup, a Tweet I am sure he will already be regretting given Vorthoren’s brilliant start to 2017.

Vorthoren is not a striker, but has played in that position after Start saw starting strikers Sigurdsen and Salvesen both pick up long term injuries. No one really expected Vorthoren to do much in this new role but his hat trick against Asane and goal against Glimt has proven many critics wrong.

Partnered with Antwi, Vorthoren is the perfect target man. His aerial ability means defences can become pre-occupied with him whilst Antwi is benefiting from the extra space he is afforded due to this. 4 goals in 5 games is a very decent return for the midfielder-cum-striker and I would be surprised if Start decided to move him back into midfield after his successes up front.

Close, but no cigar

Jens Petter Hauge (Glimt), Emil Jonassen (Glimt), Emmanuel Troudart (Ull/Kisa), Ousseynou Boye (Mjondalen), Vetle Dragsnes (Ull/Kisa), Ylldren Ibrahimaj (Arendal), David Akintola (Jerv), Saku Pekka Sahlgren (Sandnes) & Stefan Aase (Floro).

Ben Wells

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