Sunderland’s Di Canio: I’m taking it easy on players!

Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio pictured during  training session at the Academy of Light.

Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio pictured during training session at the Academy of Light.

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BOSS Paolo Di Canio has warned Sunderland’s players that his rigorous training programme will be even tougher next season.

Sunderland’s squad has endured a breathless first two-and-a-half weeks under Di Canio’s watch at the Academy of Light, with double training sessions introduced and their midweek day off cancelled.

But the Italian has been cautious about over-exerting a paper-thin squad, further depleted by the injury absences of Steven Fletcher, Lee Cattermole and Wes Brown.

While Di Canio has tried to increase the quantity of work done on the training ground, he insists it has only been done on a gradual basis and is not yet on a par with the regime at former club Swindon Town.

That won’t occur until next July, when Di Canio puts his players through their paces in pre-season for the first time.

Di Canio told the Echo: “We can’t have a weak programme because we don’t have time to change things. But every day we’re checking to see how they respond to the training – hamstrings, quads.

“The sessions are obviously a different way of working. But it’s a short period, so we have to be careful.

“We’re doing more with them, but we don’t want to do damage, otherwise we’d have problems. We have to be intelligent.

“We’re not bringing in all the methodology we used at Swindon because we had them since the beginning of season in pre-season.

“We did the tests and knew exactly what athletes we had among the group.

“In here, we’ve received a fantastic help from the physios. But they don’t know our methods.

“We’ve started to test them with a little more than they’re used to do before.

“If we see someone struggling, then we have to be careful because we can’t lose any more players.”

Di Canio has regularly been working at the Academy of Light until 11pm, and beyond, since succeeding Martin O’Neill.

But the head coach insists it will be worth it, if he can manage to preserve Sunderland’s Premier League status.

“Our work is hard, but we are more than happy,” he added.

“If the challenge is tough, we enjoy it more because if we do the right job, it will be fantastic for the future.”

Di Canio awaits the visit of sixth-top Everton on Saturday in his first home match in charge. The Black Cats have not beaten the Toffees in more than a decade.