David Moberg Karlsson is determined to prove his worth to new coach Paolo Di Canio after a promising debut.
The Swedish winger scored a goal and made another in a substitute appearance against Tottenham Hotspur in the Asia Cup.
But with Emanuele Giaccherini talked up as one of Europe’s best players by Di Canio, and a host of other wingers to compete with, Karlsson will have a tough job making the starting 11 for Sunderland’s opening game of the season, at home to Fulham.
In contrast to some other positions, the Black Cats have an embarrassment of riches in the wide areas. Adam Johnson started on the right wing for the Black Cats, El-Hadji Ba made a solid debut from the bench and Sebastian Larsson is another option – although he continues to be used in a holding midfield role – as is James McClean.
Like Ba, the Swede may find he has been brought to the club more with an eye on the future than the present. “I want to play as much as I can, even if that means coming on as a substitute in the next game too, I will continue to train hard and try my best,” Moberg Karlsson told his new club’s official website.
“It was great (to play), I feel happy just to have been on for a few minutes.
“It was a tough game to play in, the air was very, very wet and the surface too, but I think we did very well.”
The score was 1-1 when the Swede entered the fray 62 minutes into a game that was shortened to 80 by the deluge of rain before the match and during its first half.
Di Canio has worked his players incredibly hard in pre-season and their superior fitness showed in the second half of the semi-final, with Brad Friedel pulling off a couple of good saves to keep the margin of victory down.
“It was a great result,” Moberg Karlsson reflected.
“We’ve trained hard during pre-season and it was good to test ourselves against Spurs. It will be different when we play them in the league but we did well, nevertheless.”
Before going clean through to beat Friedel for the final goal, Karlsson had set one up for fit-again central defender Wes Brown.
“I don’t take too many corners,” the 18 year-old revealed. “I just thought if I can get it in towards one player it may work, and Wes managed to get his head to it very well.”
Brown has not played a competitive game since January 2012 after persistent knee trouble, and Di Canio revealed the club had offered to pay him off in the summer, but he seemed to come through unscathed.
“It’s good to be back, it’s been a long time,” Brown said afterwards. “It was good to get a few more minutes under my belt on Wednesday and carry on the pre-season as I have been doing.
“It’s always a bonus to get a goal, but first and foremost, it’s just good to be back in training, doing everything back with the lads.
“Training has been hard, I’m not going to lie. But we’ve done it and hopefully that will help us and get us going to a good start in the season.”
On the former Manchester United defender, Di Canio said: “I have to be honest and say that with a team I wanted to rebuild, I thought at the beginning that he was not on my list for the future.
“After one year and two months out, at his age, I couldn’t start thinking about a player who I didn’t know if I could rely on.
“I spoke to him and was clear that he wasn’t on the list (of players Di Canio wanted to retain). But I’m very happy to tell him now that he’s completely on my list. He has got experience, quality, desire and he can help the others.”