Sunderland star desperate for survival boost

ACCOLADE ... Larsson.
ACCOLADE ... Larsson.

SEB Larsson will only be able to savour his Player of the Season accolade if Sunderland complete their fight for survival.

Larsson was recognised this week for his consistency over the course of the campaign after pipping Lee Cattermole and Costel Pantilimon to the top prize in the Sunderland Supporters’ Association end-of-season awards

The Swedish international, who committed his future to Sunderland by penning a new three-year deal last summer, has found his feet in central midfield over the last 12 months and only missed two top flight encounters – both through suspension last month.

But Larsson says individual accolades will count for little unless Sunderland rubber-stamp their Premier League existence, with victory against Leicester City on Saturday potentially sufficient for the Black Cats to beat the drop.

“Hopefully we’ll only have to wait just a few more days and if we can secure our status at the weekend then I can reflect back and enjoy the award a little bit more,” said Larsson.

“But if things weren’t to go well then it (the season) would be a total disappointment regardless of any award.

“Don’t get me wrong – I am extremely grateful and honoured to win it.

“But when you are right in the middle of the fight we are in, fighting hard to make sure we can secure our status in the Premier League, all the focus is on that.

“Of course I am very happy about receiving the award, if we do make sure we stay up I am sure I’ll be very proud of it in the summer.

“I do feel that I have settled down a lot more this year and part of that is because it has taken me longer than I expected to find my feet in the middle of the park.

“I felt right at the start of pre-season this year that things are clicking a little bit better for me.

“And I think I have managed to keep a consistent performance level throughout the season.

“If we do secure our status I will be fairly pleased with my season and I will be very pleased with the award.”

If Sunderland beat relegation rivals Leicester, and third-bottom Hull fail to emerge victorious at Spurs, then Dick Advocaat will have fulfilled his remit of keeping the Black Cats in the top flight with two games to spare.

A return of seven points from the last three games – Sunderland’s best run of the season – has seen the Black Cats move out of the bottom three when they had been favourites to join QPR and Burnley in the Championship.

Larsson added: “The Leicester game is huge. Of course it is.

“At the same time, the last two games (Southampton and Everton) you can’t really get much bigger than those.

“It’s been about winning them, or else we would have been gone.

“Probably most people would have expected us to not get many points from the last two games, and we managed to get six points so we are up for the fight and we can handle the pressure.

“The last couple of games have been absolutely massive for us and have given us a decent chance of staying in the league, but at the same time we need to finish it off and hopefully we can do that this weekend, but there are no guarantees.”