Gardner's burning desire

by Kate Smith

Midfielder hoping team can impress after warm-weather training.

Craig Gardner believes the hot and humid conditions during Sunderland’s time in Hong Kong will stand them in good stead for the season ahead.

With temperatures exceeding 40 degrees and humidity levels at 90% the Black Cats squad have taken to the training pitch twice a day to build their fitness in preparation for the 2013-14 campaign.

Following Sunderland’s open training session at the Hong Kong Stadium, where over 200 of the red and white army were in attendance, Gardner spoke about the team’s time in Hong Kong so far.

“It was nice to get to come to the stadium and train on the pitch,” he told

“Not only did we get to see the fans, but we had the chance to try and get used to the humidity because it’s so hot out there.

“Everyone is puffing and panting but it’s a great way to get fit and we will feel the benefits when we get back to England and we should be two or three steps ahead of everyone else.”

Gardner added: “The trip has been pretty intense so far, but that’s the way the manager wants us to work and no one has backed down.

“Every player is up for it and they are putting in their all because we want to get as much as we can out of it.”