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Roker Ramble: The Midfield Needs To Do More - Bring Back The Beautiful Swede

With supporters growing restless about Sunderland's midfield looking too defence minded, it's time for Sam Allardyce to bring Sebastian Larsson back into the fold.

Michael Regan/Getty Images

Every time I watch Jack Rodwell's miss from the game against Leicester City, I still expect it to end up in the net. To put the ball over the bar, from that distance, is certainly more difficult than it is to score. How he didn't at least make Kasper Schmeichel make a save is anyone's guess and it puts Rodwell right back to square one. Before that miss, he was starting to win over a few supporters with a decent, committed display against Newcastle United and a solid performance away to Southampton. Unlike Lee Cattermole, Rodwell had been getting himself into some good attacking positions but the sad fact is, is that he keeps missing chances. With Sam Allardyce being accused of being too defence minded in his central midfield selection, is it time to have a rethink and freshen things up?

In Jan Kirchhoff, Yann M'Vila and Lee Cattermole you're probably looking at our three best midfield options. When they play together, they don't all sit deep and try to merely absorb pressure. Kirchhoff often pushes forward when the opportunity presents itself and plays many key passes. Earlier in the season M'Vila was performing similar tricks and even though Cattermole has tried to play higher up the pitch, he just looks doesn't look natural in that position. They try to influence the game in an attacking sense but three players, who are defensive midfielders by trade, isn't having the required impact. Especially when we need to start winning games.

It's obvious that Big Sam can't drop Kirchhoff, he's looked our best player since the beginning of February and M'Vila still has plenty of cash in the bank after his early season showings, despite a dip in performances. So there's a third spot that's up for grabs, which Allardyce has made pretty much clear given how much he's rotated between Cattermole and Rodwell. Does he show faith in Rodwell, who get's into decent positions but can't seem to finish them off? Or does he hope Cattermole will grow into the role and that both him and Yann M'Vila will be able to chip in with some goals between now and the seasons end? If I'm being honest, I think it should be neither of them.

I'm aware we aren't exactly blessed with brilliant midfield options at the moment but there are still alternatives. Sebastian Larsson seems to have become a forgotten man since he picked up an injury against Chelsea in mid-December, having not even featured from the bench since his return to fitness a month ago. Of course he'll have had to get back to fitness after a decent length of time on the treatment table, but Sam Allardyce's reluctance to not even give him a substitute appearance is starting to raise a few eyebrows.

Personally, i'd love to see the beautiful Swede start in this weeks game at Norwich City. Not only will he give us the same off the ball work rate as Lee Cattermole does, he has an eye for a pass, the ability to put in a good cross and, along with Wahbi Khazri, gives us an option from set pieces. Larsson also knows what it takes to drag us to safety - who can forget him still thundering into tackles away to Arsenal last season, despite carrying an obvious injury and collapsing on the floor at the final whistle? Or grabbing the winner at Old Trafford in the previous season that went a huge way to securing our Premier League status? That game against Arsenal though, that summed up why he deservedly won our player of the season award last campaign and people shouldn't forget that. Larsson has been an absolute credit to the club over the last few seasons.

I don't want to get carried away and say that Larsson will solve all our problems, but he gives us a good alternative and time is running out in our annual campaign for survival. Give Seb a chance.

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