O’Neill not concerned by Sunderland travel demands

Martin O'Neill and Seamus McDonagh
Martin O'Neill and Seamus McDonagh
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MARTIN O’Neill believes the 12,000-mile round trip to South Korea for the Peace Cup will do his squad no harm.

The Black Cats landed in Seoul today after a punishing long-haul flight via Dubai, having set off yesterday afternoon.

They will make the return trip exactly one week later after a week spent in hot and humid conditions in South Korea’s rainy season.

It’s the sort of long-distance trip that has been blamed by fans of Premier League clubs in the past for their team’s poor start to their season.

But the Sunderland manager says he doesn’t envisage any repercussions from the journey.

“I hear what people have said about too much travel in pre-season and I take that on board,” he said.

“But I don’t think those concerns really apply to this trip because there are a lot of mitigating factors as far as our involvement is concerned.

“For a start off, there’s the fact that half-a-dozen of our first-team squad haven’t travelled because of their international involvement over the close season.

“We’ve got some staying behind through injuries and Ji Dong-won is also not with us because he’ll be over in England for the Olympics. But even if we’d been taking everyone across, I wouldn’t have been too concerned.

“Had we been going to South Korea just before the start of the season it would have been more of an issue.

“But we’ll be back on July 23 – almost a month before the season starts – and that will be more than enough time for players to recover.

“I think that on top of that, the fact that we’re also only going for a week and playing two games is also a help – it’s not like we’re going for a fortnight and having four or five games.”

Sunderland’s marathon journey is enormous by their own pre-season standards but is eclipsed by the 17,000 miles Arsenal will travel and 16,000 miles QPR are facing and pales into insignificance compared to the 23,000 pre-season miles Manchester United will clock up.

The Black Cats’ itinerary, though, remains far more challenging than that of many Premier League rivals with four clubs – Newcastle United, Southampton, Wigan and West Brom – travelling less than 2,000 miles on tour.