Larsson hopes cup final experience will give him the edge

BEEN THERE: Sunderland midfielder Seb Larsson won the League Cup with Birmingham in 2011

BEEN THERE: Sunderland midfielder Seb Larsson won the League Cup with Birmingham in 2011

First published in Sport
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The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Sports Reporter

SUNDERLAND midfielder Seb Larsson hopes his previous cup final experience can persuade Gus Poyet to give him the nod in Sunday’s Capital One Cup final against Manchester City.

Larsson won the League Cup with Birmingham in 2011 when Alex McLeish’s side shocked Arsenal with a late winner at Wembley.

The Sweden international played the entire game against his former club, which the Blues won 2-1 thanks to a late goal from former Newcastle striker Obafemi Martins, but his hopes of starting in a second cup final hang in the balance.

Larsson was a mainstay for the Black Cats in the early weeks of Poyet’s reign on Wearside, but more recently he has had to contend with a place on the bench with Adam Johnson, Ki Sung-Yeung and Jack Colback all preferred in the central and right midfield positions.

The 28-year-old was a half time substitute in Saturday’s 4-1 defeat to the Gunners at the Emirates and although the Black Cats were already 3-0 down Larsson, along with Emanuele Giaccherini, gave Poyet something to think about ahead of Sunday’s showpiece.

The pair contributed more in 45 minutes than some of their team-mates did in 90 and while he does not know if that will be enough to earn a starting place against Man City, Larsson hopes his experience of playing in big games and winning the competition will help his cause.

“I don't know if he (Poyet) has made his mind up with the team,” said Larsson. “It's difficult to read his thoughts but listen, whether he has made his mind up or not you just need to work hard. That's what I always do.

“I've been lucky enough through my whole career to have been in the team whatever has happened so it's tough when you're not in the team all of a sudden.

“I don't know what the manager will think or whether the fact I've won there will count for anything. I just have to hope the manager thinks I'm good enough to be in the team. I'm not going to lie, I'm desperate to play.”

Since joining Sunderland the summer after Birmingham’s cup final win, Larsson been a regular starter under four different managers, but under Poyet the Swede appears to be slipping down the pecking order.

However, Larsson, whose contract at the Stadium of Light expires this summer, insists he will continue to work hard in order to win back his place in the side.

He said: “It's one of those, whenever you're on the pitch you want to do well. If you're not in the team obviously you're massively disappointed.

“I haven't really been in the team that much lately which is frustrating but hey, it's not me making the decisions so what can you do? I'm trying to work hard on the training ground to get back in the team.”

The Black Cats’ preparation for Sunday’s final didn’t go to plan at the Emirates on Saturday with Arsenal racing into a three-nil lead before half time.

Poyet revealed the performance was far from what he expected from a team of players desperate to win their places in the team that will walk out at Wembley this weekend, but Larsson assures supporters the squad will work hard to cut out the mistakes that led to their defeat in north London.

The Northern Echo:
Curtis Davies after scoring for Hull last night

“Me and all of the team will be working really hard getting ready for the cup final and it will be the focus this week. We will do our tactical work during the week and we'll see.”

  • BRITISH Transport Police officers will be at stations and on board ‘dry’ trains heading to and from London for Sunderland’s cup final.

The Black Cats take on Manchester City in the Capital One Cup final at 2pm on Sunday with around 40,000 people expected to be travelling down from the North-East to Wembley.

British Transport Police (BTP) chiefs have now issued a warning to those making their way south on trains that services will have a no alcohol policy.

All East Coast services from Newcastle to Kings Cross on Saturday and trains departing on Sunday between 7.30am and 8.55am will be ‘dry trains’, meaning no alcohol can be bought, carried or drank on board.

Alcohol will also be banned on the firm’s trains leaving from London between 5.12pm and 9.45pm.

All Grand Central trains heading north after the game will be ‘dry’.

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