Larsson hopes to return to Sunderland a World Cup finalsist for Sweden

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SEB LARSSON hopes he will resume his role in Sunderland’s relegation battle next week as a World Cup finalist.

Larsson is due to win his 61st cap for Sweden tonight in the first leg of their World Cup qualification play-off against Portugal.

The 28-year-old has represented his country in two European Championships, yet the World Cup remains a gap on his international CV after the Scandinavians failed to qualify for the 2010 tournament.

Larsson hopes to rectify that omission over the next five days with Sweden facing a daunting trip to Portugal tonight before the return game in Stockholm on Tuesday.

“I’ve got two play-off games coming up with Sweden now so I’m looking forward to them,” Larsson said.

“Hopefully we can book a place at the World Cup and then I can come back fighting for Sunderland.

“It’s a tough draw against Portugal and we start tonight.

“They’re big favourites, but don’t count us out, we’ll do everything we can to get through.”

Larsson headed off on international duty in buoyant spirits after playing a key role in Sunderland’s victory over Manchester City last weekend.

That win left Sunderland just three points adrift of fourth bottom Stoke City, with the two clubs meeting at the Britannia Stadium when the Premier League resumes in eight days time.

But despite taking six points from the last three games, Larsson insists Gus Poyet’s side remain focused on putting in positive performances and letting their precarious tally take care of itself.

“We’ve said let’s not focus too much on points at the moment, let’s get the performance levels up,” added the midfielder.

“At the same time, we can’t fool ourselves. After the start we had, we were in desperate need for points.

“And we got three massive, massive points against Man City, especially before the international break.

“It gave everyone calmness and the belief that what we’re trying to do is working and that’s important.

“Of course, at the moment, confidence is quite high.

“But we know where we are in the league, we’re not going to kid ourselves.

“We’ve still got a tough season ahead of us.”

Larsson is one of 10 Sunderland players in action for their countries today, with strikers Steven Fletcher and Jozy Altidore going head-to-head in Scotland’s friendly with the USA at Hampden Park.