CRAIG Gardner insists Sunderland’s players are happy to go a little stir crazy if it helps their preparations for the new campaign.
The Black Cats have been tucked away at a secluded training base in the sleepy German village of Barsinghausen since arriving on the Continent six days ago.
The complex is home to the German national team and provides all the facilities necessary for Steve Bruce’s staff to get Sunderland’s players up to speed.
While it hardly offers much in the entertainment stakes, summer signing Gardner is glad Sunderland’s party have no distractions during their stay in Germany.
The former Birmingham midfielder told the Echo: “It’s good that it’s tucked away and we can eat, sleep and drink football.
“We’ve come away to get some good training sessions in and that’s what we’re doing.
“For the new signings, we’re getting to know the lads even more, too.
“There’s a great bunch of lads here at the minute who have welcomed us to the club.
“All pre-seasons are tough, but none of the lads are moaning, we’re running our socks off.
“We’re getting our rest when we need it and it’s all good.”
Sunderland’s training sessions at the Sporthotel complex have been testing and it was a similar story against Hannover 96 last night as the Black Cats succumbed to a 3-1 defeat.
Gardner felt the result was harsh on Bruce’s men, with Sunderland posing much more of an attacking threat in the second half.
But the 24-year-old was glad of the opportunity to face quality opposition, with Sunderland forced to chase and harry to regain possession.
“Pre-season is all about getting minutes under your belt, working hard and getting used to the pace of things again,” said Gardner.
“Everybody put a good shift in last night. They’re two weeks ahead of us and we’ve only played three games.
“It was a great experience to play against a team like Hannover and the lads were brilliant again.
“We’ve been working on closing down and things like that in training just to get our heart-rate up.
“You’ve got to treat the games a bit like a training session in that respect.
“You need to get the most out of it to run about and get a sweat on.
“We could have easily got an equaliser in the second half and I don’t think 3-1 was the right result because we were cruising in the first half before the first one went in.”