Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Mick's World Cup Lesson Helps Cats

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Mick's World Cup Lesson Helps Cats

Article excerpt

Byline: By Luke Edwards

Sunderland's players would be forgiven if they did not quite know what to do with themselves next week. For one thing, they will have to train against a backdrop of increasing hype and hysteria as the FA Cup semi-final against Millwall draws closer.

In a young squad many will not have experienced the pressures and thrills such a big game heaps on a team before a ball has even been kicked.

But if that was not reason enough for the Black Cats squad to feel slightly disorientated when they arrive for work on Monday morning, the fact they might have to take part in a normal training session certainly will.

With a schedule of one game roughly every three days throughout March, training sessions on the pitch have become a rare occurrence at the Academy of Light.

Indeed, with two and sometimes three games a week, the training ground has started to resemble a health farm rather than a football club, with massages and swimming just as prominent as five-a-side matches and fitness work.

"It's not like a health farm because there's no fat people about," joked McCarthy yesterday as he prepared his side for the final league game for ten days against Derby County today.

"Some of the lads might not know what to do with themselves next week because there is no game until the semi-final on Sunday.

"We'll actually get to do a proper training session for a change. With so many games we've not been training as such.

"The games keep the lads fit, so we've just been concentrating on keeping the lads in the best condition possible.

"We took that decision that there would be little or nothing done with our hectic schedule.

"Sometimes the problem can be that, as coaches, we might want to put a session on more for our benefit than theirs, but we've resisted that temptation. We've let the lads have a massage or just go swimming or do weights.

"We've tried to let them rest as much as possible between games. It has been a strange situation, but we've seen the benefits."

The March schedule has been the most demanding any at the club has known as a Cup run coincided with a string of re-arranged matches because of the cold weather. …

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