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Larsson backs Sessegnon to help steer Black Cats from danger
WITH Sunderland wallowing dangerously above the Premier League's bottom three, Seb Larsson believes Stephane Sessegnon holds the key to helping Martin O'Neill's side move away from the relegation zone.
The Black Cats are without a win in the league since January 19 when they defeated Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium and a run of six games without victory has resulted in a worrying slide down the table.
Although a six-point cushion separates the Wearsiders from Wigan in 18th, O'Neill's side have become embroiled in a relegation battle, although they remain outsiders to drop out of the top flight.
The Black Cats boss has already labelled Sunday's home game with Norwich "as big as it gets" for his side, who turn around their form quickly with games against Chelsea, Manchester United, Newcastle United and Everton to follow.
In recent weeks, O'Neill has tried out a new system to accommodate January signing Danny Graham, which has seen Sessegnon moved into a wider role.
Although results haven't gone their way, the Benin international has been far more effective since moving out wide and the 28-year-old scored in back-to-back games with West Brom and Fulham.
The African instigated Sunderland's fight back against the London side and Larsson believes his team-mate ability to create will be vital in the final nine games of the season.
"He is massively important for us," Larsson said. "Everyone knows what he can do. He can win you a game or create a chance out of nothing.
"He has looked really sharp in recent games. Hopefully, he will take that on and keep it going until the end of the season. We want him to be a massive player for us."
Larsson has also been deployed in a different role this season, a move which has seen him play more centrally rather than in his usual wide position.
The Sweden international believes Sessegnon's move out wide has meant the Benin international has more space to run and create and he
hopes the attacking midfielder can carry on his recent form.
He said: "With Sess, he is a guy you want to get on the ball. You want to get the ball to his feet and let him do his thing and try to open up some space.
"Sometimes, when he was playing through the middle, that is tough in the Premier League but in the last few games, when he has been out wide, we have been able to give him the ball a bit more and with a bit more space to run into and attack teams.
"Let's just hope we can keep that going."
O'Neill has had to deal with a lack of attacking options in recent months and the issue has seen the Black Cats boss name a bench without an out-and-out striker in several games.
Teenager Connor Wickham's loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday ended after he scored the winner in their game against Leicester City on Saturday, but the club have yet to confirm his return.
Owls boss Dave Jones is keen to keep the striker at the club as he looks to steer his side away from the Championship drop zone and it is understood the player is also keen to extend his loan deal.
However, with O'Neill short of options he is keen to bring Wickham back and talks between the two clubs remain on-going.