Sunderland survival bid boosted by addition of their Premier League veterans

Sebastian Larsson comes on for Sunderland during their 1-1 draw at the Stadium of Light with Swansea City. Picture by FRANK REID
Sebastian Larsson comes on for Sunderland during their 1-1 draw at the Stadium of Light with Swansea City. Picture by FRANK REID
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Seasoned veterans Seb Larsson and Younes Kaboul can keep Sunderland’s survival bid on track after returning to the fold, believes Sam Allardyce.

Larsson and Kaboul will be in the Sunderland squad for today’s trip to West Ham after coming through their return to full training unscathed during the fortnight’s break from Premier League action.

If they’re needed, hopefully they’ll go in and improve the team or at least stay at the level we’re playing at, at the minute

Sam Allardyce

Neither of the 30-somethings have featured for Sunderland in 2016 due to injury lay-offs which proved to be more prolonged for each of them than had been originally envisaged.

Allardyce’s squad have coped with the absence of two of their most senior figures, with Sunderland taking 11 points from seven Premier League outings since the turn of the year.

But as the final quarter of the season approaches, Allardyce has welcomed the added experience in his squad and hopes the pair can maintain Sunderland’s upward trajectory.

Allardyce said: “They’ve been here before and know the Premier League inside out.

“They’ve seen the team has improved and got better over recent weeks.

“But if they’re needed, hopefully they’ll go in and improve the team or at least stay at the level we’re playing at, at the minute.”

After a four-point haul against Manchester United and Liverpool, there is little need for Allardyce to throw Kaboul or Larsson straight back into the fold.

Allardyce could even name an unchanged starting XI for the first time during his tenure at West Ham today – ending a 21-month wait for Sunderland to name the same side in the Premier League.

Injuries, suspensions and most significantly, the search for a cohesive line-up, has forced Allardyce to constantly tinker with his side during the first four months of his reign, but he clearly wants more consistency over selection.

“The more we can stay at a level of football, it will stay that way (unchanged),” added Allardyce.

“The other players are getting back fit and into the squad.

“But that squad has done well in the last few games with the new players.

“The only disappointment has not been getting a result against Manchester City, when we should have got a precious point.

“But we’ve won three, drawn two and lost two in the last seven which is probably our best spell since I’ve been here.

“Hopefully we can do even better than that moving forwards.”