SEBASTIAN Larsson insists he is revelling in his new “vital” central midfield role.
The 27-year-old has spent much of his 15-month Sunderland career playing wide on the right.
However, the arrival this summer of Adam Johnson has, when the former Middlesbrough winger has not been injured, seen the Swedish international periodically switched to a central berth.
With more time in possession, Larsson is relishing the added responsibility of “holding the team together”.
The Swede said: “When it comes to playing in a central position or out wide, I don’t mind at all. I’ve moved inside for a few games this season.
“It’s different when you start playing in midfield and then you get moved back into defence).
“I don’t like that, but anywhere in midfield I don’t mind.
“I’ve enjoyed playing in that central position. The main thing when you move inside which I’m not used to is your positioning, it’s a bit more vital.
“When you’re on the wing it’s not as important to hold your position all the time. When you’re in the middle you have to protect your back four and
hold the team together. It’s the one thing I’ve tried to focus on when I’ve been there this season.
“On the other hand it’s a good, strong position. You get the ball a bit more often and get to play a bit more, which I really enjoy.”
Larsson is on international duty with Sweden, who face World Cup qualifiers in the Faroe Islands tomorrow and Germany on Tuesday.
Selection for both will take him to 49 caps and the brink of a special landmark set to be realised next month in Stockholm’s new Friends Arena and against his adopted home country.
Larsson added: “I have 47 caps at the moment, so if I play in those two we have England at home in November – that’ll be my 50th cap.
“They’re opening a new stadium as well, so that’ll be good.
“It would be really nice. You want to get as many caps as you can and 50 is a landmark. It’s apt if it is against England, where I’ve spent all of my career. England always have been a big rival for Sweden. Everyone knows we lost at the Euros and we’ll want to put that right. Everyone back home follows English football, it’s by far the biggest league that our supporters follow.
“So whenever England play against Sweden it’s one of those big games for us. It’s great to have that game to open a new stadium and it would be great to win my 50th cap in it.”
Meanwhile, 19-year-old Sunderland midfielder Billy Knott has joined Blue Square Bet Premier side Woking on loan, and got off to a winning start on Tuesday night.
The England youth international has signed for the Cards on a month-long youth loan and played the first 70 minutes of a 2-1 home win over Cambridge United which ended a run of three league games without victory.
Knott has yet to make a first-team appearance for Sunderland, but enjoyed a successful loan spell at AFC Wimbledon last season, when he scored three goals in 20 outings and won the club’s Young Player of the Year award.