English League 1

Baker excited by French striker

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Tue, 23 Jul 2013 12:38:00

Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio has promised the club's supporters that his team will not be involved in a relegation battle this season.

The Italian also believes the Black Cats will play better and more stylish football after making a host of changes to his squad this summer.

Sunderland only avoided the drop from the Premier League by three points last season after Di Canio replaced Martin O'Neill as boss at the end of March.

"For sure, our plan is to play better football and stay up more comfortably than last year," said Di Canio ahead of the Barclays Asia Trophy clash with Spurs in Hong Kong on Wednesday.

"During the season, the plan that you make at the beginning of the season can change, but I am sure that we will finish in a more comfortable position this year because the players are good players and are concentrating.

"I also need to change the mentality a bit that I found last year. But I can tell you that something has changed a lot and I really think that we will have a very good season.

"You saw how we tried to play much more from the back last year. We want to have a clear identity on the field. We will have a clear identity and we play much more football than we played last year."

The Uruguay international is set to make his first appearance for the Reds this summer in tomorrow's friendly against Melbourne Victory, having flown into Australia on Sunday after extended leave following the Confederations Cup.

While he was away the 26-year-old has spoken about the attraction of Real Madrid and his agent Pere Guardiola has told the club the player wants to play in the Champions League but will not try to force through a move.

But that has not affected Suarez, who has returned to training with the same vigour he had last season and Jones said they expect him to stay.

"It's good to have Luis and (fellow Uruguay international) Seb Coates back," he told the Liverpool Echo.

"Most of the boys were joking with him about his Uruguayan (television) advert which we saw on the internet.

"Luis is a bubbly character. You always know when he's about as you can hear him five rooms away!

"He just loves football - he lives and breathes it. You saw him in training here, he's like a little kid. He doesn't want to stop - it's like waiting for your mum to call you in.

"He's that type of character. He's never going to shirk any effort. We don't expect anything less, no matter what's gone on in the media.

"He's the same player we've been used to. Nothing has changed.

"He's still here and we expect it to stay that way. We all hope he stays as he's a fantastic player. I see no reason to doubt that."

Jones has been working closely with Liverpool's new goalkeeper Simon Mignolet since the Belgium international's arrival from Sunderland.

He appears to be favourite for the number one spot as Jose Reina, who has yet to join up with the squad after his Confederations Cup involvement, could be on his way to Napoli after they made an approach for a loan deal which would reunite the Spaniard with former Reds manager Rafael Benitez.

Jones has been impressed with the new £9million signing.

"I've seen a fair bit of him and he's done really well," he told liverpoolfc.com.

"Last season was probably his best so far and Sunderland probably owe a bit to him for staying up.

"For him it's a big move but it's something he's probably deserved from last year and he'll be hoping to continue in the way he finished last season.

"His best quality is his overall quality. He's pretty consistent in everything he does. That's where you want to be - be good at every aspect, really.

"He's got a few years before he hits his peak as well. He's a very good goalkeeper.

"It doesn't change too much for me. It's a new challenge, it's someone new.

"Training has been good and it's just about getting on with it and doing your best, as you do every day."

Burton, 36, penned a one-year deal at Glanford Park following a successful trial and links up again with Iron boss Brian Laws, who was his manager at Sheffield Wednesday.

The former Portsmouth and Derby forward most recently enjoyed a spell with Gillingham where he netted 12 goals in 39 appearances.

"First and foremost, Brian Laws attracted me to the club. I've played under him and Russ Wilcox before," he told the club's official website.

"Hopefully I can bring goals, experience and a calming influence to the team. I'm very experienced and that always helps bringing through the younger lads.

"There are a lot of good, young lads here so that can only help."

Just a day after the 21-year-old's current employers Velez Sarsfield claimed the deal would go through following the Black Cats' return from Hong Kong, where they are playing in the Barclays Asia Trophy, the Italian revealed the deal had been put on hold because of a problem revealed by a medical on Wearside last week.

Di Canio told the Sunderland Echo in Hong Kong this morning: "At the moment, there is no chance for Gino Peruzzi to join us."

Manager Steven Pressley has included the unnamed striker in his last two pre-season games and is hoping to tie him down to signing a pre-contract agreement before the club reveal his identity.

And Baker admits it would be a real boost for the club if the French attacker put pen to paper.

"He's a great lad, which is important," he told the Coventry Telegraph. "He's fairly quiet and shy but he's a beast on the pitch and I wouldn't like him to run full-on into me.

"The sooner the club identify him the better because I am sick of being asked on Facebook and saying I can't tell you.

"But he's been fantastic in his first couple of games. His fitness is not 100 per cent there yet but I think that when he is up to speed he'll be a real danger for us.

"It's nice to see the gaffer has got lads on trial and trying to bring new players in because he obviously wants us to be strong for the start of the new season."

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