Sunderland's Sebastian Larsson respects Aston Villa boss McLeish

Sebastian Larsson holds the Carling Cup aloft
Larsson picked up his first winners medal in the 2011 Carling Cup final

Sunderland midfielder Sebastian Larsson says he holds Alex McLeish in high regard as he prepares to face his old manager's Aston Villa side on Saturday.

The 26-year-old played under McLeish at Villa's fierce rivals Birmingham City, and won the Carling Cup at St Andrew's prior to his move to Wearside in June.

Larsson told BBC Newcastle: "I'd like to think we had a good relationship.

"I've got nothing bad to say against him, and I wish him all the best apart from when they play us."

Euphoria following Birmingham's Wembley success against Arsenal in February was quickly replaced by disappointment when the club were relegated to the Championship on the final day of the season.

The Sweden international was one of 18 players to leave this summer, with McLeish also moving on - across the city - having delivered only the second major honour in Blues' history.

"The Premier League is every club's bread and butter, that's the main thing to stay in the league," Larsson added.

Sunderland life is good - Larsson

"But at the same time the experience of winning a major title was fantastic, it might be easier for me to say now because I'm not at Birmingham anymore.

"Of course I'll always look back on that day with fond memories and I can say I've won a title."

Under another former Blues boss, Steve Bruce, Larsson has scored three goals in 10 games for the Stadium of Light side.

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