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Sunderland new-boy confident of winning fitness race
NEW Sunderland left-back Andrea Dossena has dispelled fears about his fitness by insisting he wants to make his debut against Arsenal a week on Saturday.
The Italian – whose agent claims he might need weeks to recover from a thigh problem - signed a one-year contract at the Stadium of Light on deadline day after the Black Cats agreed an undisclosed fee for the player.
Dossena then underwent a medical shortly after his proposed move to Torino broke down because of failed tests over his fitness.
The 31-year-old’s thigh complaint led to Torino feeling it was too much of a gamble to take when they needed him to figure immediately.
But Dossena has earmarked Sunderland’s next fixture as the one to make his debut in. He is keen for his first game in a red and white shirt to be on Wearside soil, having made his debut for Liverpool there in 2008 when a late Fernando Torres goal separated the two teams.
“I want to go out on the pitch and I hope I will feature in the Arsenal game,” said Dossena. “My first game for Liverpool was against Sunderland and I remember the fantastic stadium, the atmosphere was very amazing, and now I can see that the club is a great organisation and all the staff try to do the best for my work.
“The fans are very important for [a] player because they are the 12th player on the pitch; when you go in the stadium you can feel the atmosphere, you can feel the support on the team – for me it’s important, I want to do my best for the team and for the supporters.”
Dossena’s agent has played down fears surrounding his fitness. Roberto la Florio said: “In good faith during the (Torino) medical he said he felt pain and the club doctors looked deeper.
“At that point Torino took a step back because he wouldn’t be ready for three to four weeks and they needed someone straight away. We found the Sunderland option, had a meeting and they said the injury will take four-five weeks to recover from, so they decided to sign him anyway.”
Dossena is relieved to have had his future sorted out after reaching an agreement with Napoli manager Rafael Benitez to let him move on.
The former Italy international’s arrival ends Paolo Di Canio’s search for a left-back since Danny Rose left last season – and the defender is relishing the chance to work under his compatriot.
“It’s easy for me to decide to come to Sunderland,” said Dossena. “I’m very happy to be here to come back to England in the Premier League. I’m very happy because I started to work with [an] Italian head coach and I know his kind of football, his kind of work; he worked hard and tried to do his best on the pitch and it’s the same from my career.
“The Premier League is the [most] beautiful league in the world. I left the Premier League in 2010 and now I come back because I think that I can do my best for Sunderland.”
The acquisition of Dossena was confirmed just minutes after it was revealed Fabio Borini had joined from Liverpool on a season-long loan after receiving a glowing recommendation from Simon Mignolet and Jordan Henderson.
The new boys are now hoping to impress and prove their fitness for the Gunners’ visit when American striker Jozy Altidore is also hoping to figure.
Altidore, who missed the defeat to Crystal Palace with a hamstring problem, has been cleared to resume training with the United States squad.
And coach Jurgen Klinsmann is hoping the powerful £6m striker will figure in a World Cup qualifier with Costa Rica on Friday in Ticos.
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