Sunderland boss David Moyes is “not impressed” after defender Patrick van Aanholt was photographed apparently smoking a shisha pipe.
The 26-year-old Dutchman woke on Friday morning to see the pictures in a national newspaper just days after he was withdrawn from the team to face Tottenham because of a heart scare.
Moyes was less than impressed and has spoken to the player about his off-the-field activities, and while the incident took place during the closed-season, he is not expecting a repeat.
The Scot said: “I don’t expect a player to do that, I don’t expect a player playing for me to do that. I have had a word with him. I am not impressed.
“But I have got to also say it’s a picture that comes out maybe six weeks ago, it was in his off-time, it wasn’t during the season.
“But just let me make sure, in no way do I condone it at all. I think it’s a bad thing for us to show our younger children and for supporters who follow the players. I don’t think it’s a good thing, I don’t think it’s a good thing at all.”
Van Aanholt is the latest footballer to be caught in similar circumstances with England pair Jack Wilshere and Raheem Sterling having previously found themselves in the headlines, and while Moyes admits he does not know if the player’s recreational activities could have played any part in the questionable cardiology results, it is not something he wants his players doing.
He said: “They have to be super-fit. I think we need to get Sunderland super-fit and in a great condition to compete and be ready for the games. That’s the first thing I need, so I am concerned with that.
“But I also think they are role models now to so many kids. Football is watched everywhere, all over the world, things are done with Twitter and all the other things now and you have to be very careful how you behave.
“It’s a short career as well so if you are a player, you earn really good money being a professional footballer, it’s a great life. You know something? It’s not too big a deal just to make sure you look after yourself for the time you are in it.”
Van Aanholt will be in the squad for Saturday’s Premier League clash with Crystal Palace at the Stadium of Light – the Black Cats are yet to win a league game this season – after undergoing further tests and coming through Wednesday night’s 2-1 EFL Cup third round victory at QPR unscathed.
He will be joined by midfielder Jack Rodwell and striker Jermain Defoe on their returns from groin and calf injuries respectively, while winger Adnan Januzaj is available after serving a one-match ban.
Moyes said: “We got a good result in midweek. We have to try to pick up on it again and keep this going, and play good stuff and be positive in the way we go about it, but more importantly find a way of getting three points.
“My job is to find a way of winning – I have not done that yet. I have got to find a way of winning with the group of players I have got.
“We are still searching, but I get a feeling we are feeling a bit better.”