Lars­son back to con­tinue ex­ploits

New Straits Times - - Sport -

STOCKHOLM: Swe­den stal­wart Se­bas­tian Lars­son may have missed the au­tumn in­ter­na­tion­als due to a knee op­er­a­tion but there is no end in sight for the 31year-old who is back in the squad aim­ing to in­crease his haul of 87 caps.

With his con­tract at English Pre­mier League club Sun­der­land set to run out in June, and a top flight club hav­ing re­lo­cated to his Swedish home town of Eskil­stuna, talk has been rife that Lars­son was set to ei­ther move home or quit the game en­tirely.

How­ever, the mid­fielder has no plans to end his ca­reer and is set to con­tinue play­ing for the fore­see­able fu­ture.

“Hon­estly, I don’t see the end of my ca­reer any time soon and I hope to play on for another few years,” he said fol­low­ing a train­ing ses­sion in the Swedish cap­i­tal ahead of the World Cup qual­i­fier against Be­larus to­day.

“I feel mo­ti­vated and hun­gry, but where that will be we’ll have to wait and see. I’m not too stressed about it.

“You’ve got to keep your op­tions open. I’ve loved Eng­land through­out my ca­reer. The Pre­mier League has been great for me. Ob­vi­ously, I wouldn’t be against play­ing in Eng­land, but you have to keep your op­tions open.

“I’ll have a look in the sum­mer, see what’s avail­able and make a de­ci­sion from there.”

Lars­son was his usual in­dus­tri­ous self at Euro 2016, ap­pear­ing in all three group games, but could not pre­vent Swe­den fin­ish­ing bot­tom of the sec­tion with one point.

But un­like other se­nior squad mem­bers, such as Zlatan Ibrahi­movic, Kim Kall­strom and An­dreas Isaks­son, he chose not to hang up his in­ter­na­tional boots af­ter Swe­den’s early exit.

With coach Erik Ham­ren hav­ing been re­placed by Jan An­der­s­son, Lars­son is adapt­ing to a new way of work­ing but he won’t be quit­ting the na­tional team any time soon.

“I haven’t been here long enough to no­tice any changes yet, as the days go by I’m sure there will be,” he said. “Each man­ager has his own way of do­ing things, so I’ll just have to try to pick it us as I go along.”

He re­turns to a team who are third in World Cup qual­i­fy­ing Group A with seven points from four games, three off lead­ers France and be­hind sec­ond-placed Nether­lands on goal dif­fer­ence.

Af­ter play­ing Be­larus, who are fifth with two points, Swe­den face Euro­pean cham­pi­ons Por­tu­gal in a friendly on Tues­day,

Lars­son is the sec­ond-old­est player in the squad and smiles at the sug­ges­tion he is a fa­ther fig­ure for the younger play­ers.

“I don’t see my­self as the grand­dad just yet, so we’ll have to see how we go. Ob­vi­ously, I’ve got a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence and I have to use that to help the younger lads when that is needed,” he said.

Hav­ing spent the best part of six years at Sun­der­land, who are again in­volved in a rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle, the in­ter­na­tional break pro­vides Lars­son with a chance to get away from the pres­sure of their strug­gle at the bot­tom of the ta­ble.

“When I’m with the na­tional team that’s where 100 per cent of my fo­cus is, and when I go back it will be with my club, with Sun­der­land,” Lars­son said.

“When I re­turn there af­ter this, I’ll do ev­ery­thing in my power to help the club es­cape rel­e­ga­tion, as we’ve done be­fore.”

Lars­son’s has played for Swe­den in a va­ri­ety of po­si­tions across mid­field and at full-back and, though he not guar­an­teed to fea­ture against Be­larus, he re­mains the same ded­i­cated team player as when he made his de­but against Tur­key nine years ago.

“It’s all about get­ting the three points, to keep pro­gress­ing this team. They’ve done well when I’ve been on the side­lines but in qual­i­fiers it’s ul­ti­mately about the three points,” he said.

Swe­den’s Se­bas­tian Lars­son wants to ex­tend his ca­reer for a few more years.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.