Sebastian Larsson is refusing to allow Sunderland's fight for Barclays Premier League survival to rekindle memories of relegation with Birmingham.

The Sweden international midfielder suffered the drop with the Blues at the end of the 2010-11 season and joined the Black Cats just weeks later.

Larsson, part of the City side which had beaten Arsenal in the Carling Cup final at Wembley less than three months earlier, could be forgiven for casting his mind back to that fateful day, but he insists he is looking only forwards as he contemplates tonight's crucial home clash with Stoke.

He said: "Of course you don't want to experience it again, but no, I am not thinking about that, to be honest.

"That's in the past and this is completely different. It's not a different situation, but I am at a different stage in my career, a different club and we are in a situation we shouldn't be in.

"But we have given ourselves a good chance to get out of it."

"It's not a different situation, but I am at a different stage in my career" - Sebastian Larsson

Sunderland looked to have pulled themselves clear of the relegation scrap with successive victories over Newcastle and Everton, but last Monday evening's 6-1 humiliation at Aston Villa plunged them back into the mire.

Villa and 18th-placed Wigan both won on Saturday while the Magpies collected a point, leaving Paolo Di Canio's men just two points clear of the bottom three and desperately needing a positive result.

Stoke have perhaps lost some of their fearful reputation in recent seasons and the Black Cats will hope a performance of similar quality to the one which secured three precious points against Everton in their last game at the Stadium of Light will set up a strong finish to the season, with Southampton due on Wearside at the weekend.

Larsson said: "We have coped with them quite well in recent years, so we know we can.

"But there are no guaranteed games and the Gaffer has been clear about that. Just because we have got two homes games coming up doesn't mean we are automatically going to get the three points.

"If that's your mentality, then you are more likely not to get them, so we know the pressure is back on and it's now or never."

Di Canio was confident heading into the latest round of fixtures that a single victory from the club's last three games would be enough to secure their top-flight status, and having rallied during the first few weeks of the Italian's reign, Larsson and his team-mates are keen to claim it at the first available opportunity.

The 27-year-old said: "That's always the target, especially when you have been where we are, to get to that 40-point mark, and that would hopefully be enough.

"But as the manager has pointed out, our aim was to try to get there on Monday and we didn't. He has been very honest in telling us that there's no point in delaying it.

"We don't have many games to get there, but it also requires only one win, so let's make sure we get it quickly."