Sunderland’s Di Canio sends out a fitness warning

Paolo Di Canio.

Paolo Di Canio.

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PAOLO Di Canio has warned his players not to come back to pre-season training in anything other than excellent condition.

And Sunderland’s new recruits will all have to follow the same strict pre-season rules as the current squad before joining up next month.

Bosman signings Valentin Roberge, Cabral, Modibo Diakite and El Hadji Ba will be aware what is expected of them when they officially become Sunderland players on July 1.

And top of the list of requirements is ensuring they are in great condition BEFORE pre-season starts.

The two qualities Sunderland’s Italian head coach demands from all of his players is discipline and fitness and he expects his squad to pay attention to both during their summer break.

“Obviously the players have a programme to follow so that they are ready when pre-season begins,” Di Canio told the Echo.

“When we start, we will start not that heavy, but there will still be a great deal to do and they have to be ready.”

He expects all new signings to ensure they are linking up with the Black Cats in good condtion, and they will know what is expected of them before the squad meets for the first time.

But the existing players at the Stadium of Light went on their summer holidays fully aware they will be hit heavily in pocket if they let themselves go, because the head coach believes it is impossible for players to do themselves justice if they come back overweight.

“It’s normal in the Premier League, that players get punishment for breaking rules set down by the club,” shrugged Di Canio.

“Everyone who comes back with more than 2kg over what their weight should be, we’re going to fine them.

“We test them before they go so everyone knows how they finished the season.

“This is important because when they come back they’re going to work three times a day, so it would be crazy to have put too much weight on in a short space of time.

“How can it be possible to come back with 7kg extra?

“They have one month off and then one month to work at a high intensity level and if they do not do that right, then in September, they’ll still be heavy.

“You can’t work if you’ve put 7kg on your shoulders.

“When I played, I came back with a player who was 10 or 11kg over and he didn’t play all season because he had injury problems.

“I can imagine 2kg, because you can run, swim and play tennis as well as having a bit of food or drink – so you can keep a handle on the situation.

“You can accept 2kg because after a few days back sweating in five-a-sides that will soon go.

“But 5 or 6kg? That is not acceptable.

“We have to be serious about what we want to do.”