Sunderland boss Steve Bruce critical of friendly schedule

Sebastian Larsson
Sweden international Sebastian Larsson is among the players called up from the Sunderland squad

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce has criticised the decision to schedule international friendlies three days prior to the new Premier League season.

Phil Bardsley (Scotland), Asamoah Gyan (Ghana) and Sebastian Larsson (Sweden) are among the players drawn from the Black Cats squad.

Bruce told BBC Newcastle: "We've got seven away in meaningless friendlies, it's a bit ridiculous.

"I can't understand friendly internationals days before the start."

The former Wigan and Birmingham boss added: "Knowing our luck in games over the last year, plans may be laid to rest."

Simon Mignolet (Belgium), John O'Shea and Keiren Westwood (both Republic of Ireland) and David Vaughan (Wales) are the other call-ups.

Meanwhile Saturday's goalless draw with Scottish Premier League side Hibernian ended Sunderland's pre-season preparations, with a trip to Liverpool awaiting the Wearsiders on the top flight's opening day.

"I've never been a fan [of pre-season], I always despised it as a player," Bruce continued.

"It's a means to an end to get eveybody right and together, and the most important thing is everybody is ok.

"Apart from John O'Shea, who is touch and go for next week, everyone's come through it.

"We had some big players needing a pre-season, [Michael] Turner, [Titus] Bramble, [Kieran] Richardson and [Lee] Cattermole who all came through it, and David Meyler joined in as well the last week which is excellent after all the problems we had last year."