Sunderland can cope without Sessegnon for Stoke clash and beyond

SUSPENDED: Stephane Sessegnon

SUSPENDED: Stephane Sessegnon

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SUNDERLAND have survived without the services of top scorer Steven Fletcher and they can do likewise without fellow forward Stephane Sessegnon.

That’s the message from Sunderland midfielder Seb Larsson after confirmation that Sessegnon will play no part in the remainder of the Black Cats’ battle for Premier League survival.

Sunderland’s bid to have Sessegnon’s three-game suspension lifted for a red card in Monday night’s rout at Aston Villa was yesterday thrown out after an Independent Regulatory Commission backed referee Lee Probert’s decision to dismiss the Benin international.

While the news was not necessarily surprising, it still comes as a major blow for Sunderland head coach Paolo Di Canio, who is already operating without the services of 11-goal Fletcher.

But Larsson stresses that Sunderland have taken six points from the five games since Fletcher was ruled out for the campaign with ankle ligament damage and the Swedish international is confident they can overcome the loss of in-form Sessegnon too.

Larsson said: “Of course it’s a blow.

“Sessy, especially in the games against Everton and Newcastle, has been on top form.

“He’s a very important player, everybody knows that, there’s no point lying about it.

“But it feels like throughout this season we’ve lost key players through injuries or suspensions.

“We can handle it and deal with it, even though we’ll miss him a lot.

“I think it puts a bit more pressure on everyone’s shoulders. First we lost Fletch who is our top scorer and now Sessy.

“But when we lost Fletch, other people have stepped up in recent weeks.

“There’ll have to do that again because there’s no other option.”

SEE Thursday’s Mail for full story