SEB LARSSON insists fatigue was no excuse for Sunderland’s display against Helsingborgs on Saturday.
Sunderland trained every day last week and were back at the Academy of Light on Sunday and yesterday as Martin O’Neill gets his players in shape for the Premier League opener at Arsenal in 11 days’ time.
But Larsson, who made his first appearance of pre-season in his homeland, says Sunderland should still have shown more after succumbing 2-0 to the Swedish champions.
Larsson said: “We had a very tough week in training and you could see that we looked a bit heavy-legged, but that’s no excuse for giving the ball away – and being as bad as we were when we did have possession.
“We know we need to get at least another 20 or 30 levels up before we are ready to perform in the Premier League. We were well below-par. It was a very poor performance from us.”
The 27-year-old added: “That was my first game back after the Euros.
“I only came back to training last Monday, so of course I was missing a little bit of sharpness, but I didn’t feel too tired.
“I was glad to get 45 minutes under my belt and now it is just a case of finding my form and hopefully getting some more game time in the next two matches so that I am ready for the season.”
Larsson admits results count for little during pre-season, but is looking for an improvement in Sunderland’s final two friendlies against Derby tomorrow and Leicester on Saturday.
“We’ve got two more friendlies this week against Derby and Leicester and hopefully we will perform better in those games,” added the former Birmingham midfielder.
“Of course, the important thing is that we are building towards the start of the season.
“Whatever our results and performances are like in pre-season, once the league gets going if we play well and pick up points, that’s all that matters.
“But in an ideal world you still want to win games and score goals in pre-season so that you arrive at the start of the season full of confidence.”