Graham 'was not fit enough' when I arrived, insists Di Canio
Ahead of tonight's Premier League match against Stoke City, which Sunderland desperately need to win to move away from the drop zone, Paolo Di Canio has claimed that his striker Danny Graham was not fit enough to play in the league when he took charge of the club in April.
Graham had been signed from Swansea City for £5.5m during the January transfer window by Martin O'Neill. The striker has still to score since making his move, but Di Canio believes that is understandable because the player he inherited, like some of his team-mates, was not fit.
"When I arrived Danny, simply, was not fit," he said. "He was not fit enough to play in the Premier League, in my opinion. I do not want to point just the finger at him because that was a general thing.
"He had a long face as he walked around the field during the first few training sessions and I thought, 'Can he play football?' Not because he could not pass, because that was fantastic. So I talked to him about this. Now after three games it has changed and why? Because he feels part of the club. He participates now.
"When the players go through the drills, Danny is intelligent and he is more ready and this is why I am confident he will score. He will get his chance, especially at home, because we will attack more. I know what is going on with a player that normally scores. It is normal for someone like Danny to score every two or three games. I have been talking to him about how we can use his quality depending on how we are going to attack.
"I don't have to go too deep with Danny and convince him because this is not a bad moment for him and he is doing well. I see him every day in training in a good mood. He is always the one trying to persuade his team-mates to give more.
"Players can have problems, but Danny has no problems. I am sure he will be crucial in these last three games. I'm sure he is going to score in the next three games." (© Independent News Service)