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Language barrier not a problem says Sunderland striker
THERE have been early season problems for Sunderland’s new group of players to worry fans, but striker Connor Wickham insists a disappointing start has nothing to do with communication.
In the second half of last season, many of the difficulties rivals Newcastle United encountered as they struggled to climb away from relegation trouble were borne out of a group predominantly made up of non-speaking English players.
So when the Black Cats made 13 first team summer signings and none of them were English, inevitably it raises doubts about how an Italian boss, Paolo Di Canio, will get the message across to his Premier League team.
The situation clearly concerned Football Association chairman Greg Dyke in midweek, when he used Sunderland’s transfer policy as an example to outline his concerns for the decreasing level of English players in the top-flight.
Dyke’s comments were aimed at developing the English game to try to ensure the squad has the right preparation and chance of success in future World Cups.
The concerns of Sunderland fans are more immediate, with supporters hoping the revolution under Di Canio can lead to greater results after failing to win any of the opening three Premier League fixtures.
Wickham, who has been given a fresh start under Di Canio, is confident the language between the different nationalities in the squad will not be a barrier to big to overcome.
“Communication is good, all the players speak English,” said Wickham. “The banter's flowing, there's confidence and a good vibe in the dressing room. The gaffer made it clear to us that everybody needs to bond. We're not going to be able to move forward unless there's a bond in the team, especially with new players.
“There was never any doubt that they were going to fit straight in. We went away during the summer for a long time together, so we've gelled together and we all know what we're about. There were never any mishaps or miscommunication issues, the new signings have all fitted straight in.
“There are a lot of different languages in the changing room now but everyone's bonded nicely. I don't think anyone's an outcast of any kind, the team's bonded quite well.”
If communication is not the problem, Wickham knows performances need to improve rapidly.
There will be three new players in contention to start against Arsenal next Saturday following the arrivals of Ki Sung-Yueng, Andrea Dossena and Fabio Borini in and around transfer deadline day.
Di Canio, who has already mixed his selections up, must first decide on his best team. Wickham, though, believes the crop of players the manager has at his disposal is better than last season.
“It does excite me,” he said. “I don't think we've ever been as fit and as strong as what we are now, so hopefully we'll definitely be able to last the full 90 minutes and however long beyond. There are a lot of new faces and a lot of new styles in the team now, and I think there's more talent and variety, so there's a lot to look forward to.
“The manager's explained why he's done everything, the hard work in training and changing things, he's not just doing it to be a horrible person, it's to benefit us, now and in the long run. I don't mind doing all the fitness stuff anyway, because I'm quite fit!”
Di Canio, meanwhile, has included both Lee Cattermole and Phil Bardsley – who he had been looking to move on - in Sunderland’s official squad submitted to the Premier League this week.
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