di canio

Di Canio on 'useful exercise'

by Ashley Houghton

Head coach happy with performance.

Paolo Di Canio felt the behind-closed-doors practice match on Wednesday was a useful fitness-building exercise for his new-look side.

Sunderland took on a local select XI at the club's training base in Italy, running out 13-1 winners.

Di Canio took the chance to mix and match his team, with six new faces making their debuts including Jozy Altidore, who joined the club from AZ Alkmaar on Tuesday.

“I’m absolutely happy about the performance because it’s the first game with many new faces on the field,” Di Canio told safc.com afterwards.

“[On Wednesday morning] we worked so hard, including a few reps of 800 metres, so the players were heavy in the legs but I’m very satisfied with the performance.

“I saw the movement that I want to see and many, many positive things from this game.”

Di Canio has been pushing his side hard as the countdown to the new Barclays Premier League season continues.

Tactical and technical work has been mixed with fitness sessions, and Di Canio says his players have reacted well to the workload and recognise the importance of laying the groundwork now.

“I’m very happy. its typical and happened to me when I was very young and used to play in pre-season, even being a good professional,” he said.

“I remember when you used to run a lot and moan and not enjoy, but its important that they know they need to do [it]. We have a long season and a lot of battles [ahead].

“The fitter they are, the more chance they have to win games because their quality and physical condition can support them to play at the top level.

“I don’t expect them to be smiling before the running session but so far they’ve done a fantastic job and I have only positive things to say about their attitudes, so I’m very pleased.”