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Let McClean play his own way, says Larsson
10:21am Friday 22nd March 2013 in Sport
SEB LARSSON has urged James McClean not to lose the natural instincts that made him such a potent force during his debut season in Sunderland’s first team.
After making an instant impact as he burst on to the scene a year-and-a-half ago, McClean has failed to live up to his billing this term and has been left out of Martin O’Neill’s starting line-up in a number of recent matches.
With opposition defenders increasingly attuned to Mc- Clean’s preferred direct approach, O’Neill has led the chorus of voices urging the Irish winger to add some variety and thought to his game.
However, as he prepares to lock horns with McClean’s Republic of Ireland when he plays for Sweden in a World Cup qualifier tonight, Larsson has adopted a different approach.
The Black Cats midfielder acknowledges McClean has found things much tougher this season, but does not believe the 23-year-old should over-complicate things as he attempts to regain top form.
“Everyone saw James last year and what he can do,” said Larsson. “People say he has had a tough year this year, but everyone at Sunderland has had a tough year. He is a raw talent and you should not take that away from him. That is how you get the best out of him, by letting him do his thing.
“It is hard to know what he is going to do, but whatever comes into his head he will try and do and he should try and keep that in his game.
“We have looked at Ireland and I probably know a little bit more than the rest about James, but we have a pretty good idea of what type of team we will play against them. We have to go out there and do the business.”
Sweden go into this evening’s game in Solna three points adrift of Group C leaders Germany, but a point ahead of third-placed Ireland.
The match could prove crucial to both sides’ chances of qualifying for next summer’s World Cup in Brazil, but while the stakes could hardly be higher, Larsson admits it has been nice to temporarily switch off from the pressures of Sunderland’s relegation battle.
“We are disappointed with the way things have gone, especially latterly, and we are eager to put things right and get ourselves out of trouble,”
he said. “But at the same time, sometimes you need that little break to get away from things and refresh your head. Then, we will be ready to go again.”