Laing's hopes for the season

by Ashley Houghton

Defender looking to make progress.

Sunderland defender Louis Laing says he is working harder than ever before to force his way up the ranks at the Academy of Light.

Laing’s progress was hampered last season after he missed the majority of the campaign through injury.

And the Newcastle-born defender, who shined in a loan spell at Wycombe Wanderers during the 2011-12 campaign, told that his pre-season began a couple of weeks ago with coach Robbie Stockdale.

“Every summer I’m usually quite active but this summer especially I’ve been at the academy quite a lot with Robbie Stockdale doing lots of ball work rather than too much fitness,” Laing explained.

“I’d say I was quite fit coming back but I’ll find that out when we do more tests.

“After pre-season you want to progress and carry on being in the squad’s when the season starts – that’s easier said than done with more experienced players in front of you.”

The England youth international was tipped to make sterling progress throughout the 2012-13 season but a knee injury picked up in a 1-0 win against Stoke City under-21’s at the Britannia Stadium curtailed the 6’2” defender’s season.

And Laing says he has improved mentally ahead of the upcoming campaign as a result of his injuries.

“That’s the positive you can take from the injuries [the mental test of not playing]; I’d definitely say that I’ve grown up since all the injuries last season,” he added.

“Obviously it’s massively disappointing but there’s nothing you can do because that’s football and I’ve learnt that at an early age.

“I’d rather do it now than in a few years’ time when I’ve started progressing hopefully, in a way it’s been a good learning experience.”

Laing, who has been capped five times at under-19 level by England, hopes to feature in the first-team’s pre-season tour of Hong Kong as he has done under the previous two managers.

“I went to South Korea, it was a great experience; it’s nice to go away with the first-team in pre-season, I did it under Steve Bruce as well so it’s always nice,” Laing said.

“That’s the main goal, the manager hasn’t seen me play because of my injuries last season so as soon as he sees me play I’ll try and make the best impression I can.

And, should opportunities prove to be limited on Wearside, Laing revealed he would consider the option of gaining first-team experience on loan elsewhere.

“The main thing this season as a 20-year-old is to be playing first-team football and if that’s not here then it’s got to be a first team elsewhere,” he continued.

“I played in League One with Wycombe Wanderers and I enjoyed that but I didn’t do as particularly well as I would have liked if I’m honest.

“I’ve been down there and enjoyed it but I think I would suit the Championship more so hopefully I’ll do well in the pre-season games that people come to watch and hopefully a loan will arise if the opportunity doesn’t here.”