George Honeyman says that Sunderland’s trip to New York is already having the desired effect - with training going up a notch following their return to Wearside.
Honeyman took part in an open training session which attracted 7,000 Black Cats fans to the Stadium of Light yesterday.
The mood on and off the field was jovial - and the 22-year-old says spirit is good despite the team’s tough task in avoiding relegation from the Premier League.
Manager David Moyes said before the 4-0 defeat to Southampton that he hoped the trip could foster an improved team spirit in the long run.
Honeyman said: “It was my first trip to New York, so I was as excited.
“We had a good five days together, getting away from it. I think just a change of scenery makes a massive difference. Being with each other 24/7 has a big impact, we’ve come back and I’ve never known the dressing room so loud.
“I think it has had the perfect effect so far, from what I can tell.
“Training was the highest tempo I’ve seen it this season so, so far, so good. It is what the manager wanted I think.”
Sunderland players had plenty of downtime to relax and sightsee in each other’s company while in the Big Apple but Honeyman added that the intensity of their physical workout each morning was high.
The Black Cats ran, cycled, took part in gym and ‘spinning sessions’ as they gear up for the trip to Goodison Park on Saturday.
Honeyman said: “It was hard work, we knew it was going to be that. I want to go back and maybe not work so hard!
“The first running session was harder than anything I’d done in pre-season, I was so taken aback. It was through Central Park, not a bad place to run, is it?
“It was tough but obviously good, you can’t do much complaining, can you?”
Honeyman, of course, is still adjusting to life in the first team squad having only recently made his full Premier League debut.
Having come through the ranks with a number of other homegrown players, he has admitted that it can be tough to foster a strong spirit in what is a far more diverse first team dressing room.
A change of scenery and time with each other was designed to do that and the 22-year-old is confident that it will help Sunderland beat the drop.
He said: “I think it’s tougher to get it because obviously with the U23s we’re all quite local lads so it easier to get on, most of us have been together for several years.
“In the first team, there are a lot more nationalities, so it does take a while to gel. Coming back from the trip though, I’ve never known it as boisterous and as loud in the changing room, that can only be a good sign for me.
“As a local lad, I think I can have a positive influence on the dressing room.”