STEPHANE Sessegnon admits the absence of Nicklas Bendtner this weekend is a major blow to Sunderland’s hopes of deepening Arsenal’s misery.
On-loan Gunners hitman Bendtner is ineligible to play against his parent club at the Emirates on Sunday, depriving Sunderland of their most effective performer over the last two games.
Bendtner has been an instant hit at the Stadium of Light since his deadline day move, grabbing his first goal of 2011 in the 2-2 draw with West Brom and proving an effective foil for strike partner Sessegnon (pictured).
But, under the terms of the loan deal, the 23-year-old cannot feature against Arsene Wenger’s side, who lie just a point ahead of the 16th-placed Black Cats in the Premier League table.
And Benin international Sessegnon knows how much the absence of Bendtner will hamper Sunderland’s chances, just as he was beginning to form an effective understanding with the Danish hitman.
Sessegnon told the Echo: “It’s a shame that he can’t play at Arsenal and it’ll be a big loss to us.
“He’s an intelligent player, with great technique who’s really good on the ball. He’s very mobile, too, for a big man.
“He’s playing a big part for us at the moment.
“We’ve had the opportunity to play together for a few games now and we’re beginning to understand each other.
“At the moment, he’s going into every game with the hunger to do well.
“He provides us with a lot because every time the ball goes up to him, it sticks. He’s playing at his best at the moment and he’s always got that confident mentality anyway.
“Hopefully, his goal will be the first of many for us.”
Sessegnon represented his country in Sunday’s 1-0 loss to Rwanda, with Benin already ruled out of qualifying for January’s African Cup of Nations.
But the 27-year-old believes it was an important get-together for the Benin squad, with their World Cup qualification campaign beginning next June.
“It’s always an honour for me when I go away with the national team, even though we couldn’t qualify for the African Cup,” added Sunderland’s £6million January capture from Paris St Germain.
“It’s important that we get the right preparation in for the World Cup qualifying games.”