Sunderland assistant Eric Black looking to improve set-pieces

Stephane Sessegnon with Seb Larsson.

Stephane Sessegnon with Seb Larsson.

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SUNDERLAND’S second-in-command hopes the final pre-season game of the summer will be the perfect test for the Black Cats’ remodelled squad.

Assistant manager Eric Black was instrumental in setting up the friendlies against Kilmarnock and Hibernian.

The Scot has plenty of experience of football north of the border having played for Aberdeen and managed Motherwell.

And he believes Scottish Premier League side Hibs will be excellent preparation for the Wearsiders tomorrow.

He told the Echo: “They’re a competitive side, a good side, and most importantly they’re already into their campaign so they’ll be fit and sharp and will provide us with a test.

“I think that’s exactly what you’d want at this stage of preparations and I expect the manager will name as strong a squad as he can with the new season being only a week away.

“It won’t necessarily be the team that plays at Liverpool but it will be a chance to see exactly where we are in terms of what we need to work on and what is coming together.”

One area where Bruce and Black were convinced the club needed to improve was in posing a threat from dead-ball situations and the assistant boss reckons that the club has come on leaps and bounds in that direction this summer.

“We want to make sure we’re better at set-pieces,” he accepted.

“The Premier League is known worldwide for the amount of goals from set-pieces and we felt we didn’t do as well as we should have done last year both in conceding and scoring from them.

“We’ve worked the last two days on it and I was quite happy with one or two of the set-pieces and throw-ins, the movement and delivery at Darlington.

“That’s something we’re consciously working on. We’ve got Seb Larsson, David Vaughan and Craig Gardner who can deliver, so there’s a variation there. And hopefully we’ve also got a bit of movement to cause teams a problem now.”