Ged McNamee preparing to welcome back young players.
Sunderland’s Academy manager, Ged McNamee, will welcome faces new and old as pre-season training kicks off next week.
As well as the senior players, the U21 and U18 squads will be back at the Academy of Light to prepare for their respective 2013-14 campaigns.
Eight new youngsters will join the U18 squad as they begin the first year of their scholarships with the club.
They will be amongst the first to return for a busy few days which will serve as their introduction to Academy life, with the youngsters only having just left school.
“We bring them in early to do the induction and the health and safety, then on the Friday we’ll follow up with some fitness testing,” McNamee explained.
“The second-years will come in on the Friday and talk to the new lads, and then the following Monday will be their first day out on the grass.
“It comes round very quickly. We’ve got some pre-season games lined up and we’re waiting for the fixture list to come out ahead of the new season.”
Every Academy player was given a summer programme to work through, ensuring they will return to training with a base level of conditioning.
Meanwhile the injured U18 players – Tom Beadling and Steven McCarthy – have been working with the medical team, while a number of their colleagues have been calling in on a voluntary basis to do extra work.
Workloads have to be carefully managed within the U18 group, ensuring the first-years don’t over-exert themselves only a few weeks after having officially left school.
“The second-years have been coming in on a regular basis one or two days a week and doing their own stuff, so their level of fitness should be good, but obviously it’s difficult for the first-years because they’re still at school, still completing exams.
“From a pre-season perspective, you’ve got a group of lads who have got a year under their belts, and obviously their level of fitness will be more advanced than the first-years who are just starting to come in full-time.
“You’ve got to be careful how you structure it; the first-years will be gradually introduced to pre-season.
“It’s very low-impact to start with and then a gradual build up over the six-week period. Even when the season starts, they’re still working on their fitness into September.
“If the pre-season starts off at a high intensity you get problems, they break down, so it’s got to be a gradual introduction to what we’re doing throughout the pre-season.”
The U21 squad – coached by Kevin Ball – will also return and McNamee says they will hit the ground running.
“A lot of them having been coming in, ticking over, and you’d expect them to come back with a decent level of fitness.
“They’re well educated now and they know that they need to - they can’t lie on the beach and then walk in and expect to pick it up.
“They know that they need to be ticking over, maintaining a decent level of fitness, which I would expect most of them have done anyway.”