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Fed up Bruce takes Cats off on a winter warmer.

Byline: JAMES HUNTER

SUNDERLAND have jetted out to Portugal in a bid to beat the wintry weather and prepare for this weekend''s trip to Chelsea.

Black Cats boss Steve Bruce has admitted proper training has been impossible since the snow arrived before Christmas, and has taken the decision to head abroad for warm weather training.

Bruce and his players flew out to the Algarve today, where the weather is a cool 14C - but still a far cry from the snowy and icy conditions that have gripped Wearside for the last three weeks.

The weather has badly disrupted Sunderland''s training patterns, with a covering of snow at the Academy of Light meaning that the majority of the players'' time has been spent either in the gym or at indoor football facilities in the North-East.

That is hardly ideal preparation for Premier League games, and Bruce has suggested the lack of training on grass has been a factor in the spate of injuries his players have suffered over the Christmas and New Year period.

Bruce said: I think we''ve trained maybe once or twice properly in the last couple of weeks and that''s just not good enough when you''re talking about athletes and footballers being in their best condition.

There''s only so much you can do with gym work and we''ve tried to find different places to train and prepare the players as best we can.

But training on beaches or indoors is not ideal and training on the pitches at the Academy is just not something we''ve been able to do very often.

A lot of other clubs are in the same boat as us with the weather conditions -for once it''s not just something which affects the North East.

But we''ve got to look at exploring the best ways we can to get the squad in the best possible shape because the last thing you want is a drop in fitness levels.

Players work hard in the modern game to keep themselves in peak condition and you''ve got to do that if you're going to compete. We''ve also got to be aware of injuries and the fact is that conditions like we''ve had in Sunderland for the last few weeks are not great when it comes to avoiding them.

Meanwhile, reports over the weekend have linked Aston Villa and Liverpool with Sunderland striker Kenwyne Jones, who was the subject of an pounds 11m bid from Birmingham last week.

Sunderland made another bid to lure Schalke striker Kevin Kuranyi by meeting his agent for talks in Bavaria yesterday, but remain unwilling to meet the German international's wage demands.

And Sunderland could turn their attention to Liverpool''s Dutch front man Ryan Babel instead.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 11, 2010
Words:451
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