PAOLO Di Canio insists the extreme fitness regime he has implemented at Sunderland will see LESS rather than MORE injuries at the club this season.
Questions have been raised about the wisdom of aiming to get Sunderland’s players superfit for the start of the new campaign, with many players having only one day off after their return from the summer break.
But the Black Cats’ head coach has dismissed any suggestion that players will get jaded or break down, saying that his methods will ensure far fewer days are lost to injuries this season at Sunderland than have been lost in previous campaigns.
“I promise that this club will have fewer injuries than it used to,” he told SportMail.
“We have worked hard on fitness, and fitness levels are all-important if you are to maintain quality for long periods of the game and for many games consistently.
“The good thing is that so far we have had very few injuries, apart from Wes Brown with his knee, which was always a long-standing injury.”
In the opening few weeks of the season, the Black Cats have had little in the way of injuries to worry about - striker Jozy Altidore tweaked his hamstring and was forced to sit out Sunderland’s game against Crystal Palace but was able to play for the USA last week while Craig Gardner and Connor Wickham have suffered minor strains and been rested as precautions.
“The majority of the squad had just one day off training all summer but I think this is a good thing because in my view if you train hard, you have less, not more chance of injury,” explained the Italian.
“If you train intensively, your body is able to do more and my belief is that more players pick up injuries because they are not 100 per cent fit than get injuries trying to get 100 per cent fit.
“The simple fact is that if you train hard, you can press hard and run for the full 90 minutes.
“Over the years this club has had many, many injuries.
“People talk about saving energy for the game but why would you do that?
“Why would you save energy to be fit for Manchester United when the reality is that you have to build all that energy up to be fit for Manchester United in the first place?
“If players are only, say 40-50 per cent of their potential fitness, and they strain to put in more, or stretch for a ball they are not fit enough to reach - that’s when you’re in trouble.
“If your centre is not strong, you cannot run for 60 minutes or push to go again. In my view that you have to keep training constantly to be fit.
“Of course we will have an injury or two at some stage, I’m not saying we won’t
“But what I am saying is that with the fitness levels we have, we will pick up far fewer injuries over the course of the season and that has got to benefit us in the long run.”