Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Keane's Planning a Healthy Balance

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Keane's Planning a Healthy Balance

Article excerpt

Byline: By Stuart Rayner

Sunderland will try to balance the demands of selling shirts and physical preparation this summer.

The Black Cats are apparently much in demand for pre-season friendlies and look set for a lucrative tour of Ireland to cash in on their recently-enhanced popularity there.

But they also plan to spend some time warm-weather training in readiness for what they hope will be a season back in the Premier League.

"We've discussed the (pre-season) schedule a little bit," Roy Keane revealed yesterday. "We'll have a better gauge at the end of the season where we're going to be playing.

"But there have been talks. We're looking at Ireland and there have been invites from lots of teams in Ireland and Scotland and, obviously, we may look to go abroad as well and spread the word."

Keane admits he may have to take account of the club's commercial needs but, true to form, has promised not to compromise on what is best for his players.

"We're looking at different ways of plugging into things, so I have to be open-minded to that as I've always been. But if I believe in something I stick to my guns," he said. "The priority is to get good preparation and training facilities. The club will look at the PR side of it and it'd be nice if we travel somewhere our fans can travel as well to see the team in other countries."

The uncertainty surrounding the club put paid to any pre-season tour last year, while trips were made to North America in the previous two summers.

But Ireland seems the most likely destination for the Wearsiders, who have been making great efforts to build their popularity in the country since Niall Quinn took over as chairman.

As well as the former Republic of Ireland striker's presence, the Black Cats also have Eire internationals Kenny Cunningham, Stephen Elliott, Daryl Murphy, Clive Clarke, Graham Kavanagh, David Connolly, Liam Miller and Anthony Stokes on their books, plus Northern Irishmen Trevor Carson and Jonny Edwards. …

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