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Larsson ready to return in double-quick time to help Sunderland's cause and end his suffering on the sidelines.

Byline: JAMES HUNTER Sports writer james.hunter@trinitymirror.com @JHUNTERCHRON

IF Sunderland are in need of a miracle in their fight against relegation, they could do worse than harness Seb Larsson's powers of recovery.

Larsson was ruled out for six months after undergoing knee ligament surgery in August, and yet the Swede is on the verge of a return in less than half that time.

After six weeks in a knee brace and another six weeks rehabilitation work with the club's medical staff, he returned to full training this week - and is likely to be eased back into first-team action via outings for the U23 side over the next couple of weeks.

Larsson had been fighting a losing battle against the injury for 18 months before going under the knife, but is glad that the problem has finally been solved, and that his recovery is well ahead of schedule.

"It was the medial ligament that needed repairing," said Larsson, who has been out of action since pre-season.

"It was the same injury that I was out with for a while last year, and it is one of those problems that has developed gradually over time.

"I saw a specialist last year and, as you would always try to do, we wanted to see if we could get it right without an operation.

"It got better but then flared up again in pre-season, and in one of the sessions I felt it almost go, so there were not many options left except surgery.

"I have to be honest, though, and say it was something of a relief to have the operation because the injury was something I have been struggling with for about 18 months.

"As long as you don't need the operation, you try to manage it and get by, but you realise that when you are not reaching anywhere near the level you can do, it is frustrating.

"I needed the operation, there was no doubt about that.

"You always have a positive mindset and hope that it might not be as long as the surgeon says, but you also have to realise that it might be that long.

"The rehab has gone really well. After the first six weeks, when I took the brace off, things really progressed.

"And I have managed to get myself back out onto the pitch a lot earlier than anticipated, which is great.

"Now I am just happy to be back out and kicking a football without pain."

Despite his rapid progress, the three-month lay-off has been a difficult time for Larsson - not least because he could only sit and watch as his teammates have struggled.

He said: "I said to myself after the operation that I needed to stay as positive as I can.

"It was the first major operation of my career, so I looked at it that way.

"But of course you have days where you are in the gym, you're on your own, and you see the boys training and travelling to games, and it can be a bit frustrating.

"If you let that take over, though, it will just seem to take longer to get fit.

"When the other lads are playing games and you are just running along the side, you are itching to get back.

"But it's brilliant to be back now, doing what the other lads are doing, and not having my own schedule.

"I've missed playing football over these last three months, so I am raring to go for that reason, and also of course to get back and help the team.

"Unfortunately, we've had a few of the more experienced lads injured at the same time.

"It's frustrating sitting at home and watching the away games on the TV, and the home games at the stadium.

"You become like a fan and you suffer when the team loses, because it is hard to take when you can't do anything to help out."

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 2, 2016
Words:666
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