Poyet seeks smooth transition for new arrivals at Sunderland

FITNESS FACTOR ... Gus Poyet will put new signings into opening game if they prove their fitness.
FITNESS FACTOR ... Gus Poyet will put new signings into opening game if they prove their fitness.
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GUS POYET hopes Sunderland’s new signings can buy into the work done during the Black Cats’ trip to Portugal.

Sunderland’s squad returned from the Algarve late last night after a 10-day stay on the Continent which saw Poyet’s side play three friendlies and regularly complete double daily training sessions.

The Wearsiders have a further two warm-up games before the Premier League gets underway - Thursday’s clash against Real Betis followed by next Saturday’s encounter against Udinese.

Poyet will hope to have several fresh faces available for those two games, with the head coach confident that Sunderland are on the verge of several breakthroughs in the transfer market.

And the Uruguayan says it is vital that the new boys are integrated smoothly into the fold, with the Premier League curtain-raiser at West Brom less than a fortnight away.

“The players have been excellent,” said Poyet.

“They have been working very hard and they have enjoyed their time away because it is where you make the group.

“But we need to be very smart when the new players come in and integrate them very quickly.

“You can’t imagine how important it is for the players to really care for each other out on the pitch.”

Sunderland’s trio of friendlies concluded with a dull stalemate against Portugese top flight outfit Vitoria Setubal, yet the crucial factor for Poyet was to see his players get more minutes under their belts.

The ill Vito Mannone, injured Billy Jones, returning Jozy Altidore and absent Seb Larsson - who returned to the UK earlier in the week with his wife due to give birth - were not involved, while Lee Cattermole and Wes Brown weren’t risked either.

But the rest of Sunderland’s squad all played a part against Vitoria, with Poyet happy with the work done on the Algarve.

“There were a few challenges from both sides,” he added.

“Of course when you’re on the pitch, you think you need to go in strong because otherwise you’re going to suffer.

“The only two we didn’t play were Lee, who had a little knock the other day, and Wes for obvious reasons.

“The rest who were here got some games.

“I’m looking forward to seeing Jozy on Thursday and the new players.”

Meanwhile, Larsson played 74 minutes for Sunderland Under-21s and was on the scoresheet in a 3-1 win at Gateshead on Saturday.

The Swede had asked to play in the game, while out-of-favour Danny Graham was also involved and netted with a first half header.

Mikael Mandron was Sunderland’s other scorer.