ADAM JOHNSON says Sunderland’s players cannot wait to get on the pitch against Midtjylland tomorrow night after weeks of intensive training and fitness work.
And, after all the hard work done on the training ground this summer, the winger admits it will be a pleasure to be playing only the third – and final – match of pre-season.
But he also concedes that the value of all the summer graft will become apparent once the Premier League season gets underway – against Fulham on August 17 – and insists that the whole squad is ready for it.
Looking forward to tomorrow’s friendly against Danish outfit Midtjylland at the MCH Arena in Herning (kick-off 5pm BST), £10million Johnson told the Echo: “It will be great to be involved in a competitive match again because when you’re training all the time, well, you really just want to be playing and you’re just waiting for that game to come around.
“The game in Denmark is a very important one because it is our last one before the Premier League season starts and we want to go into the new season in the best frame of mind possible.
“So if we go out to Herning, perform well and get a win, that’s going to be ideal because the next game is the season opener.
“To be honest, I think we all wish that first Premier League game was coming along now.
“There’s a quiet confidence growing in the squad, confidence in our own fitness and confidence in the fact that we all have a much better idea now of what is expected of us and what to do.
“We just want to put it into practice now.”
And the 26-year England wideman reckons that once the season gets underway, Sunderland’s players, who have put the miles and the hours in on the training pitch, will reap the rewards for their hard work.
“We had an idea towards the end of last season that pre-season was going to be hard under the new manager,” Johnson revealed.
“But we knew that it was going to be all about getting our fitness levels up because that’s going to be a feature of the side that the manager wants us to be.
“He wants us to be the fittest we can be and among the fittest teams in the league.
“I think we are looking fit and strong and it’s all about taking that on to the pitch now and using it the best way we can.
“We’ll see that when the season starts, that we have the fitness levels that we want to get through games and still be very strong at the end of them.
“The game against Midtjylland is all part of that process, but I think the lads are just looking forward to getting out there against what will be decent opposition.
“We’ll be looking to keep on doing what the manager wants us to.
“It has been tough but it has gone well.
“We have worked hard and worked a lot on our general form and shape.
“At the moment, we’re all just feel confident and looking forward to taking that into the new season.”
Midtjylland will provide a genuine test, as they sit top of the Danish Superliga with three wins out of three so far.