Vito relishing Italy test

by Stuart Vose

New keeper speaks as players gear up for training camp.

Vito Mannone is relishing the hard graft that lies ahead when he returns to his homeland this weekend.

The Sunderland squad will jet out of the north east on Sunday bound for a training camp in Italy.

There will be a heavy focus on training-ground work, with one behind-closed-doors friendly also scheduled during the trip.

And Mannone, who joined the club on Wednesday, is expecting plenty of hard work but says he can’t wait to get going.

“I’ve been a bit of everywhere in past pre-seasons [with Arsenal], but it’s great to go back to my country,” he said.

“We can work there, build the team and be ready for the Barclays Premier League.

“Obviously the fans are expecting a better season than last year and we want to be at our peak before the start of the season.”

Meanwhile Mannone says the competition for places within the squad starts now as Di Canio runs the rule over his squad ahead of the big kick-off on August 17.

And he says pre-season is a vital time on all fronts, with the squad also set to make the trip to Hong Kong later this month.

“Of course, we have a good period to make an impression,” he explained.

“We are going to be looked at straight away and we have a good chance to prepare ourselves physically, mentally and as a group.

“That’s what the manager will want, to make a compact group and togetherness to into the season and be ready to succeed in the games.”