FRAIZER Campbell is eager to replicate the purple patch from his last pre-season campaign as Sunderland players prepare to return to work.
The bulk of Sunderland’s first-team squad are due to report for duty on Wednesday as Martin O’Neill puts his players through a pre-season campaign for the first time.
There will be exceptions among the returning band of players, with Euro 2012 quartet Seb Larsson, John O’Shea, Keiren Westwood and James McClean given extra time off along with those on international duty during the summer, including African pair Ahmed Elmohamady and Stephane Sessegnon.
But one player who is eager to make his mark on both the training field and during Sunderland’s programme of friendlies is Campbell.
The striker missed the entirety of the pre-season last summer as he continued his rehabilitation from a double knee ligament injury, which was ultimately to see the former Manchester United man sidelined for 17 months.
But the 24-year-old will return to work next week on a level playing field with his team-mates, looking to stake his claim for a starting spot under O’Neill.
Campbell is hopeful of returning to the form he showed in the summer of 2010 when he notched six times during an electric pre-season campaign for the Black Cats.
He told the Echo: “Last season, when I was still injured, the aim was just to stay fit and then get a proper season with a fresh start. That’s still the aim now.
“My last pre-season was really good and I had a good scoring run.
“If I can have another one like that, I will be really happy.
“I started that pre-season well and started the season well.
“If you have a good pre-season, it helps you a lot. During the season, training is not as hard and you get that good solid base of fitness.”
Campbell made eight starts in all competitions for Sunderland last season after returning to the fold in February with a bang – scoring in each of his first two games under O’Neill.
But the England international failed to find the net again during the campaign and admits he was significantly lagging behind the rest of his team-mates.
“I need to get some proper fitness under my belt,” added Campbell.
“I have been miles behind the rest of the lads, so it will be good to get a fresh start.
“When you don’t get a good run of five or six games in a row, it’s pretty hard to get match fitness.”