Sunderland’s Cabral: We need to talk

Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio with Cabral during the training session at the Academy of Light.
Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio with Cabral during the training session at the Academy of Light.
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CABRAL says new-look Sunderland must find a common language in the Far East to ease their transition into the Premier League.

Paolo Di Canio’s side landed here in Hong Kong yesterday afternoon to prepare for their inaugural appearance in the Barclays Asia Trophy, which begins against Spurs on Wednesday.

All eight of Sunderland’s first-team summer signings are expected to feature in the two-game tournament, as head coach Di Canio attempts to mould together his dramatically overhauled side.

With so many fresh faces, Bosman arrival Cabral admits he expects the opening months of the season to provide a steep learning curve for Sunderland, particularly as only three of the new boys – Vito Mannone, David Moberg Karlsson and Jozy Altidore – are fluent in English.

But the midfielder says Sunderland’s time together in Hong Kong, after their 10-day training camp in Italy, could be crucial in creating some harmony for the Black Cats.

Cabral told the Echo: “It will definitely be complicated for us during the first few months of the season with a lot of new players.

“We’ll have to work hard in training to work out our tactics and the way we play.

“Whenever you have a new-look side, it is difficult. So in the first few months, it will be hard.

“But if we prepare right and begin to communicate, we can have a good season.

“I can speak a little English. But during the time in Hong Kong, I’m sure the new signings will pick up some more, like we did in Italy.

“When you’re talking with the players you are playing with, you have to take and learn how to say things and you pick up things pretty quickly.

“We were able to do a lot of work in Italy and put in the hard yards which should help us.

“The last few years have been hard at this club, the team and the town. But everything changes with the team this summer and I get the impression that if we work hard, we can do well.”

The tournament will provide Sunderland’s overseas recruits with a taste of Premier League football, with the Black Cats facing either Manchester City or South China FC on Saturday.

It is not totally alien for Cabral anyway after he featured against Wednesday’s opponents Spurs for Basel in the Europa League last season and took on Manchester United in the Champions League two years ago.

But the 24-year-old is relishing the prospect of competing in the Premier League on a weekly basis after being given a glowing recommendation by his cousin, former Man City midfielder Gelson Fernandes.

Cabral added: “He said the Premier League was the best competition in the world. It was good to play against Tottenham last season and two years ago I played at Manchester United.

“To play in such a stadium was a bit of a dream, with 40,000 or 50,000 fans. It was a good atmosphere, but there is in Switzerland too. But England, is the fortress of football and I can’t wait to play in front of a full stadium at Sunderland.”