LOUIS Saha can’t wait to partner Stephane Sessegnon up front for Sunderland and hopes he’ll get the chance to play alongside the Benin international this weekend.
Sunderland’s newest signing made his debut as a replacement for Sessegnon in the opening day draw at Arsenal as manager Martin O’Neill made a success of the 4-5-1 system in earning a draw at the Emirates.
But while the wisdom of playing with just the one frontman was obvious against the free-flowing firepower of the Gunners last Saturday, Sunderland will be expected to field two strikers against newly-promoted Reading at the Stadium of Light this weekend.
And Saha (pictured)hopes he’s given the nod to play alongside Sessegnon, convinced that the little striker’s vision and passing ability will make for a great partnership.
“I’m excited about that,” the 34-year-old told the Echo. “It would be a good set-up.
“I would love to play up front with Stephane because he is a great player, with huge ability and he can find a pass.
“He can turn very quickly and, if you are on the move, you will have chances to score goals.
“I have seen so many players in the Premier League who are good, but sometimes they take time to deliver the ball.
“But Stephane is very sharp when it comes to making decisions – as soon as he gets some space, he lifts his head and plays the right ball.
“I saw that when I was playing against him, and hopefully now I will see it as a team-mate.”
Connor Wickham is still sidelined and Ji Dong-won is returning from a rest after the Olympics.
But Fraizer Campbell will provide Saha with competiton to play alongside Sessegnon and there’s also the outside chance that Wolves striker Steven Fletcher being signed in time for the game against the Royals which Martin O’Neill hopes will bring Sunderland’s first win of the 2012/13 Premier League campaign.
Neither Saha nor Sessegnon have had ideal pre-seasons.
Sessegnon suffered an ankle injury just days after returning to training after an extended summer break, while Saha made his own training arrangements in France after leaving Spurs at the end of last season.
Saha, though, insists he’s not too far away from full fitness, while O’Neill said the exertions at Arsenal will benefit everyone of his players in improving sharpness and overall fitness.
Saha acknowledged: “Most players have had two months’ training under their belts, whereas I didn’t.
“But I did some work at a special camp in France, a place where players like Patrice Evra and William Gallas go, and that was good.
“So I had done some fitness work.
“I was happy with the way I played at Arsenal, although, of course, you always want to do more.
“But I’m pleased to have helped get a draw away from home, especially against a side as good as Arsenal.”
Saha has signed a one-year contract, but says he has not come to Wearside to wind down his career.
“I’m not thinking of this as my last season,” he said. “If everything goes well this year, I want to carry on playing.
“I feel good and my aim is to work hard and make sure that I score goals.
“I’m confident I can do that and as long as I do, there are no problems.”