SEB Larsson will go straight back into Sunderland’s first-team on Saturday with Steve Bruce admitting that the Swede has made himself pretty much indispensable in the space of three short months.
The 26-year-old arrived in the summer on a Bosman free transfer and was one of the less heralded of the manager’s signings as Manchester United duo John O’Shea and Wes Brown were brought in along with £8million teenage prospect Connor Wickham.
But the Swede, currently the club’s top scorer, has utterly transformed Sunderland’s attacking threat from dead-ball situations and Bruce admits: “Seb’s at the stage with us where, if he’s fit, he plays.
“He has really established himself in the side quickly and he’ll definitely come back into the team on Saturday because he offers us something that no-one else provides.
“It’s not just the fact that he score goals.
“It’s also the attacking threat he gives us from crosses, free-kicks and corners.
“We’re a better team with him in it, simple as that.”
Where Bruce chooses to deploy the Swede, rather than whether he’ll return, is of course the more important question.
The former Birmingham City man can play anywhere across midfield, but Sunderland will use him on the flanks this season – plenty of competition for places already existing in the centre of the park.
If Bruce deploys him on the left wing, he will have to make decisions on what he does with Stephane Sessegnon and Kieran Richardson, who have shared left-wing duties in recent games.
The other option would be to play him on the right-wing in place of Ahmed Elmohamady and this seems the more likely choice, given Larsson is naturally right-footed and the Egyptian’s place must be under pressure after a couple of poor performances on the flank.