Why Luke O'Nien believes Sunderland's pre-season trip to Portugal will be beneficial as Alex Neil's side gear up for 2022/23 Championship opener

Luke O’Nien says Sunderland’s players are looking forward to their pre-season trip to Portugal as the Black Cats prepare for the 2022/23 Championship campaign.

Friday, 24th June 2022, 6:00 am

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The majority of Alex Neil’s squad returned for pre-season training this week, 32 days after beating Wycombe in the League One play-off final at Wembley.

“Pre-season has come around very quickly – it only feels like yesterday that we were lifting that trophy,” O’Nien told the club’s website.

“I’ve probably watched the goals at least 100 times, and have been lying in bed looking through the photos.

Luke O'Nien lifting the League One play-off trophy at Wembley.

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“But now that’s in the past. We have things we need to go out and achieve – everyone came in early today to catch up and we had a few tests. I think the volume will get cranked up day by day now – it’s nice to see the boys again, and we all know what’s in front of us.”

Sunderland will head to Portugal for an eight-day training camp on July 6 and play a friendly match against Rangers.

“We’re excited for Portugal,” O’Nien added. “It’ll be nice to go away and train with the boys, grow closer to one another and we’re going out there for the job of getting fitter.

“Last time we went out there, we came back in good shape, played some good teams and this is going to be no different. We have the focus of coming back a better team."

When they return to Wearside, Sunderland will play four more friendly matches away from home, against Dundee United, Bradford, Accrington Stanley and Hartlepool, before their Championship opener against Coventry on Sunday, July 31.