Seb Larsson has revealed the secret to his early return to fitness – keeping a positive mentality.
The Swede completed his first 90 minutes of competitive action this season in the Under-23s’ 2-1 win over League Two Notts County in the Checkatrade Trophy.
Larsson returned to full training a fortnight ago, a full three months ahead of schedule following knee surgery in the summer.
He admits it was frustrating, at times, spending so long in the Academy of Light gym away from the rest of the first-team squad.
But he is back playing and relishing his return to fitness.
“I said to myself after the operation that I needed to stay as positive as I can,” said Larsson.
“It was the first major operation of my career, so I looked at it that way.
“But of course you have days where you are in the gym, you’re on your own, and you see the boys training and travelling to games, and it can be a bit frustrating.
“If you let that take over, though, it will just seem to take longer to get fit.”
Larsson offers manager David Moyes plenty of food for thought in central midfield, an area Sunderland have struggled in this season.
With Lee Cattermole and Jan Kirchhoff on the way back to fitness ahead of the home game with Hull City next Saturday, the return of the vastly experienced Larsson is another welcome boost to the manager’s options.
Larsson, skipper for the night, played in a number 10 role behind Joel Asoro in the final group game of the Checkatrade Trophy.
And he impressed, with Larsson at the heart of most Sunderland attacks, neat and tidy in possession.
The 31-year-old also played a key role in the 90th minute winner, his pass diverted into his own net by Haydn Hollis.