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World Cup 2018

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Survival still within our reach, says Sunderland's Larsson

Sebastian Larsson has told Sunderland to ignore what their relegation rivals are doing as they attempt to dig themselves out of yet another Premier League hole.

The 31-year-old Sweden international, a veteran of the Black Cats' four previous great escapes, admits it is virtually impossible not to keep one eye on the league table as the battle reaches its conclusion.

However, he has urged his team-mates to concentrate only on the task of amassing the points they will need to stay up and let the rest take care of itself.

Larsson said: "Of course you know what's going on, it would be silly of me to say anything else, of course you do. Of course you'd like the other teams not to win, but over the course of a season, that's not going to happen.

"You know roughly what is required points-wise to stay in this league and regardless of what the other teams do, it's going to end up being somewhere around that tally, the way it's been the last few years, and we need to reach that.

"It's up to us to get enough points and, if we get to that sort of level, then we'll be okay. If we don't, we obviously won't be okay."

Larsson's comments came as a potentially significant weekend drew to a close with Sunderland's 2-0 home defeat by Manchester City.

David Moyes' men performed admirably until Sergio Aguero fired the visitors into a 42nd-minute lead, and the game was effectively over when Leroy Sane added a second 14 minutes after the restart.

The Black Cats' disappointment was compounded by the knowledge that Leicester, Swansea and Crystal Palace had all won a day earlier, leaving them six points shy of safety and in danger of being cast adrift along with Hull and Middlesbrough.

They do not play again until they welcome Burnley to the Stadium of Light on March 18 - their only remaining fixture this month - but, having been through four successive survival fights and come out on the right end, Larsson is not about to throw in the towel.

He said: "The position we are in, we have been there before. We have been in a similar situation with four or five games left to go.

"Of course we are not going to give in - why would we? It's about picking up a few back-to-back results and all of a sudden, things change.

"I know it's easier said than done, but of course we are going to keep going and keep believing we are going to do it. As long as there are enough games to get enough points, that's what we are going to do."

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