Sunderland AFC press conference: Jack Ross on big injury setback plus contract latest

Sunderland manager Jack Ross.Sunderland manager Jack Ross.
Sunderland manager Jack Ross.
Sunderland manager Jack Ross held his pre-match press conference today ahead of the visit of Rochdale to the Stadium of Light.

Scroll down to read the full transcript from Ross' press conference at the Academy of Light.

Ross on Josh Maja form and being named EFL young player of the month?

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Jack Ross.Jack Ross.
Jack Ross.

Ross said: "I think the award is well deserved. When you look at his age and the contribution he’s made to the season to date.

"I say this a lot, but when I came in I said I’d take each player as I found them and I didn’t know a lot about Josh when I first arrived.

"But what he had and what he showed early on for us was good and then the opportunities arose because of the circumstances.

"He got plenty of opportunities in pre-season, in fact, probably too many because he played so many minutes because of our lack of options in the forward areas.

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"But quite often with young footballers it’s not just ability, it’s timing as well. Obviously once they get there they’ve got to take the opportunity and he’s certainly done that.

"He’s a bright young man. He’s very intelligent and very polite and he wants to get better too. He is a pleasure to work with."

On Maja's contract situation?

Ross said: "Because of what we inherited and because of all the problems that needed resolving, the contracts that expire at the end of this season - I’m not saying they become less of a priority, but we had to put certain things in order first.

"So really last week was the first chance we were able to sit with senior management and discuss those whose contracts are coming to an end and which we would like to keep at the club.

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"Josh Maja would certainly fall into that category because as you mentioned, as a striker when you score goals regularly at any level then you begin to become attractive to other clubs.

"For Josh the decision will not only be how much he’s enjoying it but also the experience he’s getting by playing regularly."

On Charlie Wyke injury blow?

Ross said: "We are now looking at nine to 12 weeks [out], he has some ligament damage.

"It doesn't require surgery but he will be in a knee brace and then working for fitness from there.

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"I feel for him, he has suffered the same sort of injury. A separate injury but on the same knee.

"We are disappointed as he wants to make a big contribution. It will be Christmas, New Year time until we have him back available."

Ross believes he has the squad to cope without the striker but admits his lengthy absence is a major blow.

Ross, on the early part of the season without Wyke, added: "I wouldn't say we just survived it, we did quite well. The group believe they can cope.

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"Teams have got better at dealing with what we have got to offer, we have to mix it up a bit and cause them more problems. It is a blow."

Ross on Aiden McGeady and Chris Maguire and competition for places

Ross said: "What we wanted to have is that competition for places and we didn’t have that in the early part of the season.

"On the flip side of that, Saturday was probably the strongest squad we’ve had all season and it was the worst performance. So it doesn’t always follow logic.

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"You would expect players to up their performances because they know their position is under threat.

"But taking positives from it, Aiden’s contribution, given he’s just coming back to fitness and playing catch-up, was good.

"And on Chris Maguire, his reaction to not playing was good. That’s something we expect of the players. He knew his standard had dipped in recent weeks, but his reaction when he came on was really positive and that’s all you can ask for as a manager.

"It then obviously gives you that dilemma for the following week."

Response to first defeat following 2-1 loss at Burton

"The reaction has been good, I believe," said Ross.

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"There’s a consistency from us as staff and the behaviour of us and the way we approach things remains consistent regardless of the defeat.

"However, there is aspects of that defeat that we need to improve on and we’ve made that clear. The good thing is that as a group of players they’re responsive to the info you give them, but there’ll also very self-aware. They understand why they didn’t play well last week.

"The next challenge is putting that right."

Learn more from a defeat?

Ross said: "I think you learn more about the players, particularly in the embryonic stages of managing them.

"You learn more there about how they deal with it and how they respond to it. As a manager I probably learn from every game we play, win, lose or draw.

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"There’s games where I’ve won where I feel I have done things wrong as a manager and winning a game will never mask that. I always look back on a game and think could I have done that a bit better."

On the threat posed by Rochdale?

Ross said: "I have enormous amount of respect to Keith Hill and everything he’s done there, his record in terms of gaining promotion and then establishing teams in this league is fantastic.

"They had a great result last week and their away record is very good.

"I’ve said previously that we face challenges every week that is different to most teams in the week because you can see how much it means to everyone associated with the visiting clubs that have came. That’s not meant in a patronising manner.

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"But you can see in the amount of supporters they bring, in the way they approach the game, they almost have cup final feels to them.

"We have to deal better with the challenges we’re facing. Teams our approaching games in that manner and I expect Saturday to be no different. We have to be better to deal with it."