Fit-again Seb Larsson is “ready” to take up the call to arms for Sunderland.
That call from his gaffer might not come just yet – David Moyes is well aware the midfielder needs to build up his match fitness before he is unleashed on the Premier League survival battle.
I already feel like I’m ready to go!
Larsson broke down in the summer, early in the reign of Moyes – very early in fact – but now feels like a new man following surgery on a long-standing knee problem.
The Gazette reported yesterday how the Swede was back THREE months ahead of schedule and the player is excited to be pulling on his boots for real.
“I needed the operation, there was no doubt about that,” said the 31-year-old.
“You always have a positive mindset and hope that it might not be as long as the surgeon says, but you also have to realise that it might be that long.
“The rehab has gone really well – after the first six weeks, when I took the brace off, things really progressed.
“And I have managed to get myself back out onto the pitch a lot earlier than anticipated, which is great.”
So when might we see one of the squad’s key men back in the Premier League?
“I suppose that’s a question for the manager to decide,” he smiled.
“I’m fit, I’m no longer injured and I’m back with the team.
“Obviously, because I’ve been out for a while, I am not match-fit, but if the manager asks me to play then I am ready to play.
“We’ll have to wait and see.”
Larsson may not have to wait much longer, given the Black Cats have an Under 23 fixture or three coming up.
Sunderland host Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League Cup on Friday night at Eppleton CW before taking on Notts County in the Checkatrade Trophy at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday evening.
Andy Welsh’s team also have a Premier League International Cup tie against Benfica in Hetton two weeks on Friday.
With Saturday’s trip to Bournemouth the final Premier League match until November 19, Larsson may not miss many more games in the top flight.
“It’s a good schedule for me because there are some Under 23 games coming up in the next few weeks,” he said.
“And after the Bournemouth game this weekend, there is an international break which has come at the right time for me as well.
“That gives me another couple of weeks to work without missing any more games, getting myself back up to speed.
“Hopefully by the end of that I’ll be ready to go – but if you ask me now, I already feel like I’m ready to go! But that’s always going to be the case.”
Larsson will undoubtedly provide Moyes and Sunderland with a major filip, with the visit to Liverpool on November 26 providing a potential return to the match day 18.
Without the injured pair of Jan Kirchhoff and Lee Cattermole the centre of the park has been a problem for the bottom of the table side.
Larsson brings not only experience but a fair degree of expertise in an area certainly lacking the latter.
The Sweden international, who played at Euro 2016, says his knee has been tested in training and it feels fine.
“I was out on the grass for about three weeks before I was allowed to fully join in,” said the former Birmingham who can’t wait to help out the side who are currently eight points shy of safety.
“I felt I was ready to join in but you’re not allowed to, so I was dipping in and out.
“When the other lads are playing games and you are just running along the side, you are itching to get back.
“But it’s brilliant to be back now, doing what the other lads are doing and not having my own schedule.
“I’ve missed playing football over these last three months, so I am raring to go for that reason, and also of course to get back and help the team.
“Unfortunately, we’ve had a few of the more experienced lads injured at the same time.
“It’s frustrating watching the away games on the TV, and the home games at the stadium. You become like a fan and you suffer when the team loses, because it is hard to take when you can’t do anything to help out.”
His wait though could soon be at an end.