Sunderland squad left in no doubt as to the challenge that lies ahead in the Championship

John O'Shea. PA pic
John O'Shea. PA pic
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The Sunderland squad has been left in no doubt as to the challenge facing them this season as they bid to bounce back from relegation at the first attempt.

Simon Grayson has a wealth of Championship experience having managed Blackpool, Leeds United, Huddersfield Town and Preston North End in the second tier.

And skipper John O’Shea says the new manager has made it crystal clear how competitive this season will be.

“When you face the disappointment of a relegation it is important you get everyone focused as quickly as possible on the main targets for this season,” said O’Shea, who signed a new one-year deal in the summer.

“And that is obviously to bounce back as quickly as possible to get the club back up with the big boys in the Premier League.

“We know that the Championship is so competitive. We have to be ready for that.

“That’s what the manager is trying to stress to us because he has had that experience there and he knows what you need to be successful in it.

“We have to listen to that and take it on board as quickly as possible.

“The manager has spoken about the positive attitude that is going to be needed by the group.

“We’re going to have to be together, to fight for each other, and to make sure that the demands are on us to work as hard as we possibly can both with the ball and without the ball.”

Sunderland continue their pre-season preparations on Saturday away to Stuart McCall’s League One Bradford at Valley Parade (KO 3pm).

O’Shea is looking for the Black Cats to build on the 2-1 win over Hartlepool United but admits the priority is the opening game against Derby County on Friday, August 4.

“The manager will want to get everybody through injury-free because while it is nice to be winning games, scoring goals and getting confidence, the main thing is that we go into that Derby game and get the start that we want,” said O’Shea.

“That is more important than a win against Bradford, although it would be nice to get a win there too,” he told the club website.