SEB LARSSON believes Paolo Di Canio’s footballing philosophy will see him become a more influential central midfielder this season.
Larsson spent the bulk of last year in the middle of the park, yet by his own admission, the Swedish international faced a steep learning curve after being thrust inside from the right flank by Martin O’Neill.
The 28-year-old believes he has a far better grasp of the position now and looks set to stay in central midfield after playing there in both of Sunderland’s outings in the Barclays Asia Trophy last week alongside summer signing Cabral.
But Larsson says he has also been helped by Di Canio’s blueprint for Sunderland, with the head coach keen to implement a more attractive style for the Black Cats.
Larsson told SportMail: “I’d definitely say I know the position better now.
“And with the way we’re going to be trying to play football next season, I think that will suit me a lot more too.
“I give 100 per cent whenever I can, but I’m maybe not that ball winner when you’re defending for a whole game and having to win headers and stuff.
“I like to be able to get the ball under control and play it a bit more.
“But that’s going to be very easy next season because that’s what the boss wants us to do.”
Di Canio remains keen to add to his resources in the middle of the park, with a midfield playmaker at the top of his wishlist for the remainder of the transfer window.
Sunderland are not blessed with options in the engine room, despite the summer captures of Cabral and El-Hadji Ba.
Craig Gardner and Jack Colback are operating as emergency full-backs, Lee Cattermole’s future is still unresolved and Alfred N’Diaye has joined Turkish side Eskisehirspor on a season-long loan.
Until any further recruits, Larsson and Cabral are likely to continue as Di Canio’s first-choice, with the latter impressing in the Far East and demonstrating there is more to his game than simply being a midfield ball-winner.
“Cabral can do that, but he can play too without a doubt,” added Larsson.
“That’s the type of player the manager has wanted to bring in.
“He wants to change the style of the team and we’re working very hard on doing that.
“I think you can see glimpses and hopefully we’re only going to get even better.”