THE OPENING international break of the season always prompts understandable irritation.
After waiting all summer for the Premier League to finally get back underway, everyone puts their feet up again just a fortnight into the campaign.
With Sunderland still searching for their maiden league win of the season, these last two weeks have seemed tiresomely long; watching dumbed down qualifiers for Euro 2016 – an expanded competition which England should comfortably participate in, regardless of the current state of Roy Hodgson’s side.
Sunderland boss Gus Poyet admits he would rather the break hadn’t arrived, but was heartened to see his players return from international duty in good spirits this week.
Emanuele Giaccherini regained his place in the Italy side, Jozy Altidore captained the USA, John O’Shea helped Ireland win in Georgia and even Steven Fletcher could reflect on a job well done after Scotland’s narrow defeat against world champions Germany.
Poyet said: “It’s been good (training this week).
“I would prefer not to stop because we were getting better, but it’s the same for everybody.
“I think apart from Fletch, who lost – but got plenty of credit for the game – everyone came back happy and with that extra confidence.”
There has been a buoyant mood in the Sunderland camp throughout the summer and the start of the season, with the pressure of last year’s constant fight against the drop removed.
However, Poyet knows the only way to maintain that spirit is for Sunderland to put positive results on the board.
“We need to keep convincing the players that what we know what we’re doing,” he added.
“We’ve been competitive in every single game; we didn’t get destroyed by a team or weren’t bad in any aspect or conceding in a certain way, like always from set plays.
“At the moment, it’s football.
“I think the game we played best, we lost (at QPR).
“And the one we didn’t deserve to win that easily, we won 3-0 (at Birmingham City, in the Capital One Cup).
“I wasn’t expecting to go the whole season unbeaten.
“I’m just trying to make sure we win and everyone can relax and go from there.
“But we are better from last year, the team feels better.”
* Don’t miss tonight’s online Football Echo - 41 pages for your best read of the weekend – it’s available on sunderlandecho.com from around 6.45pm
We have launched a FREE football app covering Sunderland AFC, Newcastle United and Hartlepool United.
For all the latest news, gossip and match coverage straight to your mobile and tablet, download the Football Echo now from here: