Patrick McLaughlin

Monday, February 21, 2011

We woke up this morning expecting rain, because that's what we went to bed to last night. So when I got out of bed, I opened the doors of the balcony... and was pleasantly surprised to be greeted with bright sunshine and a blue sky!

That was a fantastic start to the day and we had a nice breakfast at our hotel, where we're being looked after extremely well, before getting on the bus and making a short trip to our training pitch in Pietrasanta. We had a great session there - it was a bit of a blowout where we were able to get yesterday's journey out of our legs - and the place was so picturesque. There were mountains in the background and the sea is just a few miles away.

It was a lovely place to be, even though we worked hard. We worked on defensive stuff and had a small-sided game at the end, so it was a really good workout.

It was quite warm and a couple of lads got blisters on the dry surface, but it wasn't uncomfortably hot and we just made sure we got plenty of fluids on board. Along with a few other players, I had to wear a GPS monitor system, which keep a track of what distances we're covering at different speeds.

We've been using them for a while now back at the training ground in Newcastle so it's not something new - although it does make sure you run about! And really we're just training as normal, despite the change of scenery. Instead of having a game once a week at most, though, we've got them every two days out here. That's the biggest difference.

But a change of scenery it certainly is, and I have heard that it's been raining and snowing back home while we've been enjoying a bit of sunshine! That just makes us want to do well in this competition even more, because we're certainly not in a rush to leave this weather behind and return to winter in Britain.

We're loving every minute of it at the moment, and the excitement is really building now to our opening game tomorrow. We went to watch Juventus against Club Brugge in the opening game this afternoon just to get a taste for it and that's made us look forward to it even more.

For now, though, we're keeping ourselves entertained in the hotel. I'm rooming with Dan Leadbitter, who I get on really well with. I roomed with him last time we had a tournament abroad - an end-of-season competition in Germany in 2009 - and he's a top man.

The banter between the lads has been great - it's just transferred seamlessly from Newcastle over to Italy. But I'm going to wait a bit before I hammer any of them in my diary. I'll save it up for now - but they'd better be warned because I might dish out a bit of stick in the days ahead!