Sessegnon happy with Sunderland striker role

Stephane Sessegnon attacks the Hibs defence.

Stephane Sessegnon attacks the Hibs defence.

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STEPHANE Sessegnon hopes Sunderland can find the right combination in attack after being re-classified as a striker.

Sessegnon was earmarked as a wideman or attacking midfielder when he arrived at the Stadium of Light in a £6million move from Paris St Germain in January.

But it wasn’t until Sunderland’s injury crisis forced Steve Bruce to deploy Sessegnon in a more central forward role, that the Benin international came to life.

Bruce has publicly confirmed that he now sees Sessegnon as one of his four strikers alongside Asamoah Gyan and summer signings Connor Wickham and Ji Dong-won.

Sessegnon is sure to start as a support striker in Saturday’s opener against Liverpool, with Gyan expected to line up alongside him, providing the Ghanaian comes through tonight’s international friendly with Nigeria, at Watford, unscathed.

But after the summer arrivals of 6ft-plus duo Wickham and Ji, Bruce also has the option of handing a more physical centre-forward the task of leading the line.

Sessegnon told the Echo: “I enjoy playing more as a striker, even at the end of the season when I had to play up front by myself.

“It was a relief for me to start scoring goals and playing well after we were losing games when I first arrived. But I’m quite happy whatever position the manager wants to put me in. I’m happy to do that.

“It’s good that we’ve brought one or two physical players in now like Connor and Ji, who are a bit bigger because a lot of our game is based on crosses.”

Sessegnon’s return of three goals from the last five games helped Sunderland scrape into the Premier League’s top 10 on the final day of last season.

The 27-year-old believes the Black Cats can improve on that 10th placed finish this time around, although he admits Sunderland face a testing start to the campaign with an opening day trip to Anfield followed by the Wear-Tyne derby.

Sessegnon added: “Hopefully we can improve on last season. That’s what we want to do, to keep improving. If we can improve on last year’s final position then that would be great.

“Obviously the further we’re up the league, the better. It’s a difficult start but you’ve got to play these teams at some point during the season.

“We’ve just got to perform in the way we can and hopefully pick up some points.

“It’s an exciting start to the season with the game against Newcastle as well. The intensity of that game is exceptional and let’s hope we can get a positive result from the first couple of games to launch our season.”