Seb Larsson does less running – but is more effective as he gets used to midfield role

IMPROVING ... Seb Larsson.
IMPROVING ... Seb Larsson.

SEB Larsson is eager to make further strides after the dramatic upturn in his Sunderland form under Gus Poyet.

Larsson has arguably been the stand-out player for Sunderland so far this season, with the midfielder continuing the improvement he showed over the final month of last year’s successful escape from the drop.

The Swedish international has not always been flavour of the month among Sunderland supporters after initially struggling to adapt to a central role, following ex-Black Cats boss Martin O’Neill’s decision to move him inside.

But Larsson has gradually begun to thrive in a midfield trio under Poyet, and still believes there is more to come from him. When asked whether he was in the best form of his Sunderland career, Larsson told the Gazette: “Maybe.

“Like the rest of the team, I’ve been disappointed with the last few games.

“But overall, I’ve been on the pitch more than I haven’t, which is a good thing.

“Now it’s about me and the team pushing on, and then looking back at the season at the end of it.

“I feel like it took me longer than expected to get used to playing in there. I was that used to playing out wide.

“I played inside in a two for a bit, and then a three, but I feel like I know the position really well now.

“Before, I felt like I was running around everywhere, without really affecting anything.

“Now, I feel like I’m probably doing a bit less running, but being a bit more effective.

“Hopefully that’s helped me.

“Obviously, I can still improve a lot, but I feel like it’s got better.”

Like the rest of the Sunderland side, Larsson’s fortunes over recent games have suffered, with the Black Cats registering just one point from a possible 12 since their Tyne-Wear derby triumph.

But in mitigation, Larsson has been hampered by injury after twisting his ankle in last month’s stalemate at Aston Villa, albeit he has been able to continue playing.

He said: “The ankle’s fine. You get a knock and you don’t really have the time to rest it.

“But you don’t expect to feel 100 per cent at this stage of the season in terms of not having any knocks.

“It’s not an issue.

“There’s no point me saying I’m playing through the pain, it’s the same for everyone.

“As long as you can walk out on the pitch on a Saturday, that’s the main thing.”

Larsson’s performances in midfield have been complemented by the form of Lee Cattermole, who was ruled out of last weekend’s defeat to Liverpool with a groin injury.

Sunderland missed Cattermole’s presence in a dire display against the Merseysiders, although the Black Cats are hopeful that he will return at Spurs tomorrow, with fellow defensive midfielder Liam Bridcutt suspended.

“Catts has been very influential for us this season and I think you’re always going to miss a player like that,” added Larsson.

“You don’t want anyone out injured, but Catts is a big player for us.

“But there have been games this season when Catts has been out and we’ve done a lot better – Liverpool away.

“That’s not an excuse, but of course you’re going to miss influential players who aren’t available.”

Twitter: @YoungSunEcho