Seb Larsson hopes he can inject fresh energy into Sunderland’s ranks during the relegation run-in after the longest injury lay-off of his career.
Larsson returned from three months on the sidelines as a second half substitute in last weekend’s draw at Southampton, before the Swedish international completed 90 minutes for the Under-21s 48 hours later.
It was my first real injury of my career, so it’s not nice sitting on the side watching the teamSeb Larsson
Sunderland originally hoped that Larsson would be on the treatment table for just five weeks when he succumbed to knee ligament damage in November after last year’s Player of the Season had finally regained his spot in the starting XI.
But the 30-year-old’s injury proved to be more serious than expected and became the first sustained lay-off that he has endured.
Larsson told the Echo: “It was one of those ligament injuries which didn’t look as bad straightaway.
“But once I went to see different people, we realised that it was a bit worse than we were hoping for.
“Of course you always hope to be back a bit quicker, but it wasn’t to be.
“It was my first real injury of my career, so it’s not nice sitting on the side watching the team.
“But I suppose I’ve had a winter break for the first time ever!
“Hopefully I’ll be refreshed and energised for the run-in.
“But I’ve got to count myself lucky. I’ve been able to stay fit throughout my career.
“They say it happens to everyone at some stage.
“Luckily, it’s a kind of injury that once I’m over it, it’s not going to bother me in the future.”
Larsson played the final 15 minutes at Southampton, yet remains rusty, hence his inclusion in the U21s’ 3-2 win over Everton on Monday night.
“I got a few minutes on Saturday and then it was perfect to get 90 minutes on Monday night. I was happy to play,” he said.
“It was always planned that I’d be involved (for the U21s). There was a game last week, but with being involved in the first-team, it didn’t fit in the schedule.”
Larsson’s first-team return ended in dejection after Virgil van Dijk’s stoppage time equaliser cost Sam Allardyce’s side what would been a vital victory.
But the ex-Arsenal man says Sunderland have to take heart from their performance levels since the turn of the year and keep faith that they will eventually get their rewards.
Larsson added: “(Southampton equaliser) It was a blow and at this stage of the season where we are, it doesn’t really matter if you ‘could’ have got the points.
“It’s about getting the points.
“But the good thing from the last few games is that we keep putting ourselves in situations to win football matches and get points.
“Okay, we weren’t able to do that last week, but if we continue to do that, we’ll win a few before the end of the season.”