Seb Larsson has admitted to “frustration” at being cast out of the starting XI for the first time in his career.
But the Sunderland winger – who admits he is “desperate” for a Wembley recall – is still hopeful that he can convince Gus Poyet to include him in his Capital One Cup final plans.
The Journal revealed last week that Sunderland are yet to start contract talks with the Sweden winger, who made a decent impact in the second half of Saturday’s heavy defeat at Arsenal. Although the player is interested in speaking to the Black Cats about a new deal there is confusion over whether he is in Poyet’s plans moving forward and his role in Premier League games has been limited of late.
There would be plenty of takers for Larsson in the summer with Fiorentina understood to be monitoring the midfielder’s availability along with a clutch of Italian sides.
In the short-term there is the bigger matter for Larsson of returning to the Black Cats side, with Larsson admitting that he is desperate to return to Poyet’s plans in time for their trip to Wembley.
Larsson has already tasted success in a major cup final once, helping Birmingham to overcome Arsenal in 2011.
Returning to the team in time to try to reprise that result would allieviate some of the frustration the winger has felt over the last few months.
He said: “It’s one of those, whenever you’re on the pitch you want to do well. If you’re not in the team obviously you’re massively disappointed. I haven’t really been in the team that much lately which is frustrating but hey, it’s not me making the decisions so what can you do? I’m trying to work hard on the training ground to get back in the team.
“I don’t know if he has made his mind with the team – it’s difficult to read his thoughts but listen, whether he has made his mind up or not you just need to work hard. That’s what I always do.
“I’ve been lucky enough through my whole career to have been in the team whatever has happened so it’s tough when you’re not in the team all of a sudden.
“Me and all of the team will be working really hard getting ready for the cup final. We will do our tactical work during the week and we’ll see.”
Poyet admitted on Saturday that he would have to tear up his plans for the final after the hammering that Sunderland suffered at the Emirates.
Realistically, Poyet’s options for making wholesale changes are limited, with Vito Mannone guaranteed a start as Sunderland’s in-form goalkeeper. Despite poor performances across the back four over the weekend, it is unlikely that Poyet will spring a shock and drop Phil Bardsley, John O’Shea or Marcos Alonso – and Wes Brown’s return from suspension is very timely given Santiago Vergini’s struggles against Arsenal’s swift forwards.
But in midfield and up front there are options for Poyet, who will be hopeful that Steven Fletcher recovers from an Achilles knock in time to stake his claim.
Lee Cattermole – rested on Saturday – is the only midfielder assured of a start, according to Poyet.
Larsson made a good impact coming on in the second halfat the Emirates and along with Emanuele Giaccherini he has assembled a case for inclusion.
“I don’t know what the manager will think or whether the fact I’ve won there will count for anything. I just have to hope the manager thinks I’m going enough to be in the team,” he said.
“I’m not going to lie, I’m desperate to play.”