Sunderland midfielder discusses returning AFCON stars.. and whether players are following January transfer gossip

Didier Ndong is back and available for a return to Sunderland's midfield against Spurs tomorrow
Didier Ndong is back and available for a return to Sunderland's midfield against Spurs tomorrow
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Seb Larsson says it will be a major boost for his Sunderland team-mates to have Didier Ndong and Lamine Kone back in the fold as they seek to shock Tottenham Hotspur tomorrow night.

Wahbi Khazri also saw his country exit the African Cup of Nations on Saturday night, but it is not yet clear whether he will be available for selection.

Ndong is expected to be available on Tuesday night

Ndong is expected to be available on Tuesday night

Those doubts are compounded by the ankle injury that the Tunisian carried throughout the tournament.

Lamine Kone also played to no part in the compeition for Ivory Coast after his injury at Turf Moor on New Year’s Eve.

But Larsson says the players’ return can help lift the side’s energy levels, which has been a crucial element when Sunderland have landed points this season.

That will be particularly important against a Spurs side who are known for their intensity and high pressing.

He said: “We’re happy to have him [Ndong] back. I’m sure he doesn’t want to be back yet, but, as a team, we’re happy to have him back and Lamine (Kone) as well – they’re two big players for us so we’re happy to get a few more players through the door, more options for the manager and more competition for places.

“It’s going to take a big shift from everyone.

“We do look at the statistics on physical output and there’s definitely correlation between the games where we’ve had a high physical output and the games where we’ve done better. We need that.

“We know we’re not going to play all the other teams off the park and hard work is what the fans want to see here so that’s what we’ve got to do against Tottenham, who are a top team, and every team we come up against for the rest of the season.”

Larsson also said that he will not be paying attention to the rumour mill over the next 48 hours.

The deadline shuts at 11pm tomorrow, but, with such a crucial game to be played, the Swede is determined not to lose focus.

He said: “I don’t really pay too much attention. You kind of know a little bit of what goes on, but early on in my career I would have checked the rumours and so on more regularly.

“Nowadays I’m quite relaxed about it because it can take your focus away from things and you’ve got no control over it.

“I’d love to see a few more lads come through the door to make us stronger and better but whether that happens or not we’ll wait and see.”