Sweden star Seb Larsson does not expect fatigue to be a factor, going into the Euros 2012 finals after a long Premier League season, writes Graeme Anderson..
And the Sunderland midfielder feels the same will go for England’s players ahead of their Group D openers on Monday – with the two nations facing a potentially pivotal date in Kiev next Friday.
Much has been made of the demands being made on Premier League footballers when it comes to summer competitions – players in England having no winter break and effectively been asked to play all year around.
But Larsson, who turned 27 yesterday, shrugs off the claims that too much is being asked. “I don’t think it will be an issue,” he told the Echo.
“It is just a fact of life – the season just goes on for those involved in the Euros.
“From a Swedish point of view, there was a week’s rest planned at the end of the Premier League season and then we were all to link up.
“And when you take into account the competition runs almost to the end of June and pre-season begins in July then you are talking about football all year round.
“But I don’t think it will be a problem.
“A week off at the end of the season and then going again is not a bad way to go – it means you don’t lose that fitness so much as a team.”
Larsson’s workload in his debut season for Sunderland was recognised by manager Martin O’Neill, who decided that the winger should go in for a hernia operation before the end of the campaign instead of playing through it.
He said: “I asked a lot of Seb, including playing against Manchester City on New Year’s Day when he was ill, and I was also aware that he was increasingly struggling to train towards the end because he was nursing a hernia.
“Seb was prepared to play for us right to the end and then try to get through the Euros before having the operation.
“But I decided that, to be fair to him, he should miss our last few games so he could have the hernia dealt with and be pain free for the Euros.”
Larsson played 39 games for Sunderland last season, scoring eight goals before going under the surgeon’s knife in late April.
But the operation has proved a success and he has played a large part in two warm-up games for Sweden – a 3-2 win over Iceland and a 2-1 defeat of Serbia.
He said: “I personally look forward to the Euros.
“It’s another thing to go for and another thing where you want to make sure you’re in good form.
“I haven’t felt the injury at all in these games – it is gone long since.”