SEB LARSSON says Stephane Sessegnon has been threatening to burst back into the limelight for several weeks.
Sessegnon ended an eight-month drought in Sunday’s 3-1 victory at Fulham after handing Sunderland an unassailable two-goal lead with a stunning 25-yard strike.
The Benin international has struggled to hit the heights which saw him romp to Sunderland’s Player of the Year title last season after an injury-hit pre-season and a summer of transfer speculation.
But Larsson has revealed how Sessegnon has gradually shown glimpses of his former self on the training ground and hopes the goal at Craven Cottage will provide a much-needed confidence boost for the 28-year-old.
Larsson told the Echo: “It was a massive goal for Sessegnon. In training over the last couple of weeks, he’s looked back to himself, back to his best.
“He’s been scoring quite a lot in training with strikes like that.
“It was good to see him take it on and hopefully he can kick on now.”
While Sessegnon was desperate for an individual boost, Sunderland’s collective need was even greater after only goal difference separated the Black Cats from the bottom three prior to Sunday’s game.
Larsson is wary of predicting that the three points will prove to be the catalyst for a charge up the table, but the Swedish international admits Sunderland needed a tonic after three successive defeats.
“Time will tell whether that’s the moment that kick-starts our season,” said the 27-year-old. “I can’t just say it will be and then we go and lose the next game.
“But we needed something like that – coming away with three points from a tough away game to lift everyone’s spirits. We know we haven’t done well enough so far this season, especially the last few weeks.
“Those two defeats in the league kind of put that bit of pressure on us.
“And I think that showed on Sunday. It wasn’t the best display and we were a bit edgy when we were 3-1 up with 15 minutes to go and a man up. We still weren’t really that comfortable.
“That’s the mental side of the game so hopefully it will give us a massive boost.
“It was a very happy dressing room afterwards and now we can try to kick on.”
Victory is particularly timely, given Sunderland face fourth-placed West Brom on Saturday in the first of two back-to-back games at the Stadium of Light.
Larsson added: “The pressure will still be on because we’re still not where we want to be in the table. But it gives us a boost going into the two home games.
“There’s no denying West Brom are in form and doing very well. I know Jonas Olsson (West Brom’s Swedish defender) very well, but hopefully their form can stop next weekend.”