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Sunderland's Swede taking nothing for granted under Poyet
AFTER receiving an instant recall to Gus Poyet’s starting line-up, Sunderland’s Seb Larsson believes being a key member of the latest Wear-Tyne derby winning team does not guarantee his place under the new boss.
Larsson has been back in the thick of things under Poyet – and crucially on the right hand side of midfield after being asked to play more centrally in previous months.
It was on the flank where he performed competently on Sunday, to finally help Sunderland to a first win of the Premier League season.
In defeating Newcastle along the way, it is hoped the effects of the derby will give the Black Cats a long-term lift as they look to close the four-point gap to safety in the weeks ahead.
But Larsson believes neither he nor any of his team-mates should expect to have a right to be in Poyet’s team selection just because they gave him the ideal start to life at the Stadium of Light.
“Whether the manager thought he needed more experience or not I don’t know why he picked the team he did,” said Larsson.
“Personally I was delighted to be involved. He’s been quite frank about the competition for places, telling us to make sure we stay in the team. That’s what I tried to do with the way I played.
“It was three points but it was a big derby win and we enjoyed it on Sunday night. But the important thing is to make sure we kick on from here.
“We enjoyed ourselves but we’re still in a bad situation in the league so we have to make sure we use this to kick-start our league campaign, make sure we get more points on the board, and push up that league.”
Larsson’s versatility has led to him being used in a variety of roles by his managers over the years. While happy to slot in here, there and everywhere, he is also keen to stress to Poyet that he does prefer to be out wide.
The Sweden international, expected to stay in the team at Hull on Saturday, said: “It was a bit of a funny system, kind of playing inside a bit but on the wing. But I thought it worked out quite nicely. I do like being out towards the wing. I like having two central midfielders next to me.”
In the build up to Newcastle’s visit to the Stadium of Light, Poyet took all of his players and staff out for a team bonding meal on Thursday night because he sensed a lack of togetherness.
With 14 new arrivals during the summer such a scenario is understandable, but Larsson felt throughout last week that there were good vibes floating around before facing the club’s biggest rivals.
“I hope the meal helped, it looks that way,” said the 28-year-old. “It was a nice thing, we all got together and saw each other’s faces off the pitch. It obviously didn’t do any harm anyway.
“We knew something extra was needed to what we had been doing. Games with Newcastle are so special. First of all we were desperate for the three points and our first win of the season.
“We spoke about it during the week, there was no better game than that one to get it and kick-start our season. I’ve been involved in a few of these now and they are special games, they really are. It gives the fans something to smile about which is very nice.”
Having endured eight league games without a win to start the season, Larsson was also happy to now admit there were still fears Newcastle could snatch a late point when Fabio Borini struck the winner six minutes before time.
He said: “You’re delighted when you see it fly in, it was massive but you look at the clock straight away and you realise it’s not over.
“When you’re in the situation we’re in and have been in for a while you take nothing for granted. There were a couple of nervous minutes, especially with the big boys they had on, kicking the ball long. We had to defend hard and we did.
“It was a massive three points and I suppose it’s three points like any other game but hopefully this can give us a big boost to push us up the league.”
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