Jack Ross is pleased with the early signs his players have shown in pre-season as Sunderland gear up for their opening friendly at South Shields this evening.
The Black Cats will make the short five-mile journey to Mariners Park from the Academy of Light for a 7:30pm kick-off following another high-octane training session this morning.
With the nature of pre-season at this stage a relentless one, Ross is pleased with the way his players have acquitted themselves but is well aware of the work still to be done before the start of the season on 3 August.
Speaking to safc.com ahead of this evening’s game, the Scot was keen to stress the unsettled nature of these kind of games as he plans give an even amount of game time to all his players.
“The players have worked hard over the last seven or eight days,” he said.
“Their conditioning levels have returned, and we have pushed them as hard as we can.
“We’ve taken them to points where they’ll need to be at stages throughout the season and I think that’s important.
“There’s a great variation in work you do in pre-season now and I think that’s important to keep it fresh, but we’ve done some of the same things as last season.
“To date, I think they’ve enjoyed it. It hasn’t been easy for them, but they’ve worked incredibly hard throughout pre-season so far and I think they’ve felt the benefit of it.
“The significance of pre-season friendlies can be overestimated or underestimated – that usually depends on how the results goes,” he continued.
“Very obviously, it’s about us getting back on the pitch again in a competitive game.
“We will train on Thursday before playing the game at night and we will use two teams for 45 minutes so there’s no surprise for those attending.
“We will field two strong teams depending on the players we have available to us and it just gives the lads a taste of being back on the pitch against an opposition who will treat the game properly.”