Jack Ross handed boost as Sunderland defender finds form while midfielder departs

Jack Ross has praised Alim Ozturk for showing he can contribute to Sunderland's season.
Jack Ross has praised Alim OzturkJack Ross has praised Alim Ozturk
Jack Ross has praised Alim Ozturk

Ozturk was a late substitute as the Black Cats battled through Max Power’s red card to seal three valuable points against Bradford City.

It was the second time Ozturk has come from the bench to help his team defend against direct opposition, the centre-back also performing diligently at AFC Wimbledon.

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It has not been an easy start for Sunderland’s first summer signing, who has fallen down the pecking order, but Ross has hailed his character in coping with the setbacks.

“I had a conversation with him after the Bradford game, to say how pleased I was that he had made a contribution,” Ross said.

“I spoke to him at the end of last week, I know Alim from having worked with him before and his temperament is good. He’s a good character, he’s got no issues. Obviously he wants to play but he knows he has to be patient and take his opportunities when they come up.

“Those were his words to me and it’s pleasing to see that mentality taking hold in the squad. But it’s nice for him to contribute. It’s OK me giving him praise but it’s good for him to contribute on the pitch. “He’ll have come away on Saturday knowing that he was part of it, knowing that’d done his part in dealing with the balls into the box.”

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Ross added that left-back Reece James was the perfect example to any fringe player looking to transform their fortunes.

“Reece is the best example of it, where’d found himself a few weeks ago because of Bryan’s form and Denver’s emergence,” he said.

“He had hadn’t done an awful lot wrong but these guys were ahead of him all of a sudden. But he knew the chance could come and his performance at Bradford was reflective of that, he played like he knew he had to take his chance.

“His performance was good considering he’s still playing catch-up a little bit, and I think he’s one who will get better. That’s pleasing for him.”

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Meanwhile, Sunderland will look to sort Papy Djilobodji's saga out after reaching an agreement with Didier Ndong yesterday.

The Black Cats say they have reached an ‘amicable’ agreement to be compensated by 24-year-old Ndong after serving notice on his contract.

A statement read: “Sunderland AFC has reached an agreement with Didier Ndong for his departure on amicable terms.

“As of 8 October 2018, he is no longer an employee of the club.

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“There is an agreement with the player for a payment by way of compensation upon his signing for a new club.”

The compensation figure is fixed as part of the agreement, with Gabonese outlet isport claiming that it is in the region of four million euros.

Sunderland accepted a bid of around six million euros for his services earlier in the summer.

Should Ndong find a new club in the coming weeks then he will have to wait until January before he can be registered to play.

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Having become a free agent outside of the summer window, he cannot be selected before the winter window opens.

The deal avoids a potentially lengthy and expensive legal battle, capable of derailing Ndong’s career and draining Sunderland’s resources.

Next on the agenda for the Black Cats is bringing the saga with Papy Djilobodji to a definitive conclusion.

Djilobodji was served notice under his contract last month after reporting late for pre-season and failing a fitness test.