Sunderland duo prepare to go head-to-head at Euro 2016

All three of Sunderland's Euro 2016 contingent are in action today, with long-serving pair John O'Shea and Seb Larsson going head-to-head in France.

Monday, 13th June 2016, 8:53 am
Updated Monday, 13th June 2016, 11:17 am
Seb Larsson

The Republic of Ireland's O'Shea, Sweden's Larsson and Italy's Emanuele Giaccherini are all involved in qualification Group E, which on paper promises to be the most tightly-fought affair to reach the knock-out stages in France.

Italy face Belgium tonight after Ireland and Sweden have faced off at the Stade de France, where Sunderland team-mates and good friends O'Shea and Larsson are pitted against each other.

The Black Cats pair have been team-mates at the Stadium of Light for the past five years after both were signed by Steve Bruce in the summer of 2011, yet they both realise the magnitude of today's encounter.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

"I'm sure John would agree that this first game is the big one," said Larsson.

"Both Ireland and Sweden realise that straight away, that it's a big game, especially with three teams going through.

"We were laughing when we saw the group. Joking that our game will be the big one for the two of us.

"I've known John for a long time and I'm good friends with him, so I wished him all the best, but we'll be looking to get one over him, that's for sure."

O'Shea was part of the Ireland team that failed to register a single point at the last European Championships, but is determined to help Martin O'Neill's side to emerge from the group stages.

Amidst that objective, the 35-year-old will set aside any personal friendship with Larsson.

O'Shea said: "We both know what kind of characters we are, how competitive we are and we'll want to get one over each other.

"It's one of those things, if there's a tackle in the game, or a chance to crash into him, I'm sure we'll both be going in as hard as we ever have.

"At some point, we'll be having a beer together. That's the way it should be."