Richard Mennear's tour diary: The Sunderland players weren't the only ones with transport problems

Sunderland are based in Evian-les-Bains, south-east France
Sunderland are based in Evian-les-Bains, south-east France
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My bosses didn't have to ask me twice when the opportunity arose to cover Sunderland's pre-season tour in France.

A six-night stay on the banks of Lake Geneva in July? Sold.

Sunderland have picked a lovely part of the world for their second training camp on foreign shores this summer.

In early July they jetted off to Austria for an intense nine days of training before a couple of domestic friendlies against Hartlepool United and Rotherham United.

On Sunday the squad flew to Evian-les-Bains, in south-east France, and we followed them out on Monday.

Now, you'll be well aware that the plane the Sunderland players were on had to make an emergency landing at Manchester en route to France.

Scary stuff, no doubt, for all of those involved.

And myself and colleague James Hunter from the Evening Chronicle had an equally nervy start to our journey - major traffic problems on the M62 led to us almost missing our flight from


We were within 10 minutes of the good folk at easyJet closing the check-in desk.

Now that would have been an awkward phone call to work...

Thankfully we made the flight and all has been plane-sailing since, our home for the week a quintessential French hotel slap bang in the centre of Evian-les-Bains.

Lake Geneva - which is stunning - is a stone's throw away and the view from my window of the hills of Evian-les-Bains is like a scene from a classic French film.

The only issue is having to climb the steep hill in the blazing sunshine in order to get to the Stade Camille-Fournier where Sunderland are training and playing.

A real pre-season workout...


There was good news from the training pitches today with the return of Jan Kirchhoff, Seb Larsson and John O'Shea to the fold.

O'Shea and Larsson were given an extended summer break as a result of their involvement with Sweden and the Republic of Ireland at Euro 2016.

But it has the been the absence of January recruit Kirchhoff that was causing most anxiety amongst fans.

The German is yet to play a single minute of pre-season action ahead of the new campaign. Rested from the opening three matches as a precaution.

He played a key role in last season's survival success but was often subbed midway through the second-half as he couldn't last a full 90 minutes.

Now that he is back training, a return to action can't be far away as he looks to boost his fitness.

The trio will also give David Moyes increased options ahead of the remaining friendly matches this week against Dijon FCO on Wednesday night and Montpellier HSC on Saturday.