Sunderland have to be fighting fit when the Premier League gets underway a week today, not during the phoney war of pre-season, believes Jack Rodwell.
Dick Advocaat’s side face their final friendly outing this afternoon here in Germany against Hannover 96 (4pm kick-off) after tasting defeat in three of their first five warm-up games.
It’s preparation for the first game, but that’s all pre-season is aboutJack Rodwell
While those results may have highlighted the need for further reinforcements at the Stadium of Light, they have prompted minimal anxiety in the Sunderland camp, with fitness and match-sharpness the all-important buzz words.
Even if Sunderland succumb to another loss against Bundesliga opposition this weekend, midfielder Rodwell insists the overriding concern is the opening Premier League encounter at Leicester in seven days.
“We want to fine-tune today and make sure we know exactly what we’re doing,” said Rodwell.
“It’s preparation for the first game, but that’s all pre-season is about.
“If we can get a good performance tonight – it doesn’t have to be a good result– and then get the sharpness back a bit more from another week of training, then it will set us up for Leicester.
“If you look all over the board, a lot of Premier League teams lose in pre-season.
“You can’t put your finger on it, because you should be beating these sort of teams.
“But you’re working on new shapes, with new players and not everyone’s match fit. There’s loads of different factors, but as long as we’re on it on the first game of the season, that’s the main thing for us.”
It took Sunderland until October to register their first league win of the campaign last year after Gus Poyet’s side proved to be draw specialists. But Rodwell insists there is quiet confidence in the Sunderland camp that they can begin this season in a more positive manner.
“Looking at the last few games of last season, I think we can go into this season with that confidence behind us, knowing that we’ve got a good squad of players after a few signings,” he added.
“We want to hit the ground running and get off to a good start. Last season, we were drawing too many games. You’re better off losing half and winning half.