What Lee Johnson has said about his ideal pre-season as Sunderland look to finalise friendly plans
Lee Johnson is set for his first pre-season as Sunderland head coach – but what can we expect?
The Black Cats have currently confirmed just two friendlies, with visits to Spennymoor Town and York City pencilled in for July 3 and July 21.
But discussions are ongoing about a number of additional games, while Johnson has also discussed the prospect of a trip to Scotland.
That visit could allow Sunderland to face Ross County in a friendly, with the arrangement of such a game part of the deal that brought Ross Stewart to Wearside in January.
Johnson, though, is keen to have a clearly structured pre-season.
Sunderland’s potential opponents will likely be selected with specific focuses in mind, and to enable the side to build upon what the focus of the prior week has been.
Explaining his ideal pre-season to the #SAFCUnfiltered Podcast shortly after his appointment, Johnson said: “I think optimal is definitely having a pre-season.
“I think where you can have a pre-season, develop as a squad, build on performances and actually select the pathway to work on those individual pieces of the game model.
“You might pick a Premier League side to play because there's a themed week on defensive protocol.
“And then you might go and play a non-league side that you think can beat because you want to work on numbers around the box.”
The Black Cats are scheduled to return to training at the Academy of Light ahead of the visit to Spennymoor.
Johnson will be hoping to have some additional bodies within his squad, with the club yet to make a summer signing.