ADAM JOHNSON is braced for the unexpected at the start of Sunderland’s pre-season campaign.
The Black Cats squad gathered at the Academy of Light this morning for the start of their first pre-season under head coach Paolo Di Canio.
The Italian has vowed to forge the fittest side in Sunderland’s history before the Premier League gets underway next month and England winger Johnson expects a testing six-and-a-half weeks of preparation for the new campaign.
Johnson said: “It’s going to be interesting.
“Pre-season is going to be probably quite tough and a lot different to what we’ve been used to.
“Again it’s all new sorts of things for us to look forward to and I know we’re going to come back really fit for the start of the season.”
Sunderland will head out to a pre-season training camp in Italy on Sunday, where they will play one behind-closed-doors game.
But the centre-piece of Sunderland’s pre-season will be the Barclay’s Asia Trophy, in Hong Kong, which begins with a clash against Spurs on Wednesday, July 24.
Di Canio’s side will then face either Manchester City or South China FC on Saturday, July 27 before returning home.
Johnson, who has travelled to the Far East on pre-season during his Man City days, is relishing the prospect of competing in the tournament.
“It’s always good getting to travel the world and seeing different places,” said the 25-year-old.
“When you look back on your career and you say, ‘Yeah, I went there,’ it’s always nice to experience that.
“I’ve been fortunate to travel all over and this is one place I’ve never been. I get to say, ‘I’ve been to Hong Kong.’
“I was in China last year and Malaysia and it was just unbelievable the amount of fans, how crazy they are about football, how much they love it and how much they know about you.”
Johnson added on the premierleague.com: “It’s good for us to play in the heat for our fitness and before the season starts and it’s competitive as well, and that’s what you need in pre-season.
“Going out there and playing against top teams as well, can only do us good ahead of the start of the season.
“Pre-seasons have always been seen as a lot of hard work and a bit of a nightmare but when you get to go all over the world and get the lads together it’s not too bad.
“It’s always interesting to see the culture and how people are with us. We were talking about it the other day actually, the lads are really looking forward to going and experiencing it.”