Sunderland’s Seb Larsson hopes to taste Swede success

HIGH HOPES ... Sweden's Sebastian Larsson (left) against Engalnd's Ashley Cole.
HIGH HOPES ... Sweden's Sebastian Larsson (left) against Engalnd's Ashley Cole.

SEB Larsson hopes the thrill of appearing at Sweden’s new national stadium will see his 50th international cap culminate in victory against England.

Tonight’s friendly marks the opening game at Stockholm’s 50,000-capacity Friends Arena, which replaces Sweden’s previous home of the Rasunda Stadium.

The Sweden squad trained at the facility for the first time on Monday, ahead of tonight’s re-run of the summer’s European Championships encounter.

And Sunderland midfielder Larsson believes the unveiling of the new stadium can inspire the Swedes, as he reaches a milestone cap for his country. He said: “It’s absolutely fantastic for Swedish football to be playing in these facilities.

“Hopefully it will help us in the long-term. By moving from the Rasunda, it should give the national team a better chance.

“Once we start to win games there, we should be able to get some confidence from that.

“And that makes the match tonight important to us because we want to start getting a good feeling about the place for the future.”

Sweden will face a very different side to the one they tackled in the Euro’s, with six of the England line-up who started that 3-2 victory, absent from Roy Hodgson’s squad.

Hodgson has included seven uncapped players in the squad, with a number of high-profile withdrawals forcing him to experiment prior to the next round of World Cup qualifiers, in March.

But Larsson insists he has not paid too much attention to the notable absentees among England’s squad, with Sweden in confident mood after taking seven points from their opening three encounters of the qualifying campaign.

Larsson, who has been an ever-present for Sunderland in the Premier League this season, added: “To be honest, I have not had too much of an eye on how England are looking at this game.

“It’s nothing unusual for them to have withdrawals from the squad for friendlies.

“But for us, this is a very important game.”