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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 18 March, 2003, 14:10 GMT
Larsson returns for Sweden
Henrik Larsson celebrates another goal for Celtic
Henrik Larsson has scored 36 times for Celtic this term
Henrik Larsson has ended his self-imposed exile from international football and will return to play for Sweden.

The 31-year-old Celtic front-man won the last of his 72 caps during last summer's World Cup, when he scored in the 2-1 second-round defeat to Senegal.

Larsson, who has bagged 24 goals for his country, announced after the tournament in Japan and Korea that he would only play club football.

But having been persuaded to reconsider due to a striking shortage, he has been named in the squad to face Hungary on 2 April.

Sweden have struggled without the striker, drawing their opening qualifying matches for Euro 2004 with Latvia and Hungary.

And with Ajax striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic suspended and other striking options not playing regularly for their clubs Swedish management duo, Tommy Soderberg and Lars Lagerback, wanted the talismanic Hoops man to return.

The best part of this squad is that he (Larsson) has decided to return
Sweden coach Lars Lagerback

A press release from Sweden read: "We asked Henrik Larsson if he will help us in this very important game in Hungary and, happily, Henrik said 'yes'."

Lagerback added: "The best part of this squad is that he (Larsson) has decided to return.

The Swedish coach said Larsson had not decided if his international return would extend beyond the Hungary match.

"We've agreed he will play this game and after that we will see," he said.

"We haven't decided anything yet."

Celtic manager Martin O'Neill said he would never stand in the way of any player competing at international level.

Speaking to the club's website, O'Neill said: "Henrik told me that he intended coming back for this game, and I made it clear to him I had no problem with it whatsoever.

"What players want to do about their own international careers is, and should be, entirely up to them.

"My concern as a club manager is obviously about injury, but I would never stop a player representing his country if he wished to do."

Larsson has just returned from a five-week break, following a jaw fracture and has scored in his last two outings, against Liverpool and Rangers, taking his tally to 36 goals for the season.





CELTIC

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