Seb Larsson backs Nicklas Bendtner to be huge hit

LOAN ACE ... Nicklas Bendtner.
LOAN ACE ... Nicklas Bendtner.
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SEB LARSSON has backed Nicklas Bendtner’s decision to end his Arsenal misery after linking up with the Dane for the third time in his career.

Sunderland’s two Scandinavians have enjoyed similar career paths after coming through the ranks in North London.

The pair enjoyed a promotion-winning loan spell together at Birmingham and, following Bendtner’s deadline day move to Sunderland, have now renewed acquaintances at the Stadium of Light.

While Larsson (pictured, inset) left Arsenal on a permanent basis six years ago for regular Premier League football, Bendtner has grown frustrated at his lack of opportunities over the last 18 months, with the on-loan striker expected to part all ties from the Emirates in the summer.

In the meantime, Bendtner can enjoy a starting spot with Sunderland and has already made his presence felt after playing an influential role in last weekend’s first victory of the campaign against Stoke City.

Larsson told the Echo: “Obviously we had a very successful season together at Birmingham and Nicklas did very well. He scored a lot of goals and was our main striker.

“He seems really happy when I’ve spoken to him.

“He probably felt it was his time to move on and enjoy his football somewhere else. I’m delighted he decided to come here because I think he can be a big player for us.

“People probably think he’s a lot older than he is.

“But the only spell in his career when he played regularly was at Birmingham and he did fantastically well, so he’ll benefit from being on the pitch more often than not.”

Top scorer Larsson is quick to point out that 6ft 4in Bendtner is not just a targetman, although the striker’s aerial threat resulted in Sunderland’s crucial second against the Potters.

Stoke defender Jonathan Woodgate was forced to head into his own net to prevent Larsson’s inswinging cross reaching Bendtner, with the duo no stranger to each other’s strengths.

“I know how Nicklas plays and how he likes the ball and I think he knows how I deliver the ball,” said Swedish midfielder Larsson.

“It helps that there’s someone to aim for and, in general play as well, he’s not just a guy who will flick it on.

“He tries to take the ball down off his chest and that’s really important for us, especially in spells when you’re under pressure.

“You need the guy up front who can get hold it up.”

Bendtner is also another target from set pieces, with Sunderland’s two goals from deadball situations against Stoke highlighting the threat of Larsson’s delivery.

“The manager has spoken about how important set pieces are,” added the 26-year-old, who is expected to shake off a toe injury to keep his place for Monday’s trip to Norwich.

“For me when I take set pieces, I’ve just got to give the people in the box a chance to score.”