AJ reaping the benefits

by Ashley Houghton

Winger enjoying time in Italy.

Sunderland midfielder Adam Johnson says the squad are reaping the benefits of their warm-weather training in Italy.

Johnson and the rest of Paolo Di Canio’s side travelled to Italy earlier in the week as they prepare for the Barclays Premier League’s opening game on August 17.

And Johnson, who played 39 times for the Black Cats last season, says it’s already one of his toughest pre-season tours yet.

“It’s going really well, we’ve been working hard for about a week now and I think we are starting to see the benefits,” the England international said.

“It’s been very tough in this heat but that’s what we’ve got to do.

“I remember doing a few tough ones in my time at Middlesbrough but this one is right up there with them even though we’re only a week into it.

“Hopefully we’ll get the benefits from it at the end.”

Di Canio’s side will return from Italy next week before heading to Hong Kong next weekend for the Barclays Asia Trophy.

And Johnson feels the preparations in Italy will benefit the squad both at the tournament and also on the opening day of the season against Fulham.

“I was in China last year and it’s unbelievable the temperatures out there, but hopefully our time here is going to stand us in good stead when we go to Hong Kong but mainly for when the season starts,” he explained.

The 25-year-old has seen seven new additions join the squad over the close season and he has been impressed with how the fresh influx of players have adapted.

“When they all first came in I thought it might take a while but everyone has fitted in so quickly; it’s been amazing really,” Johnson added.

“Over the last couple of days everyone has bonded well by sharing rooms with each other and things so we’re getting on well.

“It’s tough at times being away for long periods; with morning and afternoon sessions it does get tough but you’ve got to keep focused and do the work because at the end of it we’re going to be the ones who benefit.”