Sunderland boss Di Canio backs himself to adapt to Premier League

The 44-year-old insists he is not fazed by a lack of experience in the top flight and believes his squad need to work on their fitness ahead of the relegation run-in
Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio has backed himself to adapt quickly to the Premier League following his side's 2-1 defeat to Chelsea.

The Black Cats had taken a first-half lead following Cesar Azpilicueta's own goal but failed to hold out for the win after Matthew Kilgallon turned the ball into his own net and Branislav Ivanovic deflected David Luiz's effort past Simon Mignolet.

Di Canio's lack of top-flight experience was scrutinised upon his appointment, but the Italian insists he is not fazed by the task of adapting to the Premier League.

13/8 Sunderland are 13/8 with bet365 to be relegated from the Premier League
"The difference is when you prepare a game you play against Accrington, now it's Oscar, Hazard, Mata, some of the best players in the world," said Di Canio told reporters.

"It's a bit different. Before I used to make a strategy only to win, also now I try to win but now the strategy is different when you play and you don't have the ball. If you are good manager like I am, you're not worried."

Di Canio concedes he needs to work on the fitness of his Sunderland squad ahead of the remaining six games of the season, with the Black Cats currently relying on goal difference to separate them from the relegation zone.

"It's not the fittest team in the world but we're going to work and give them more energy in the next few weeks," the Italian continued.

"We have a short time from now until the end of the season but we are capable to build, without exaggeration, their strength and resistance. Most importantly their attention because that's where the goal comes from. In seven minutes we conceded two.

"Every week [the relegation battle] will change. Stoke now are involved completely, they are only three points above us, they have to play against us, they have to play Manchester United, we have a better goal difference. I think it will be Villa, us, Wigan, Stoke, and yes right to the end of the season."