Jack Ross' revealing response to Sunderland owner Stewart Donald's strong stance on Benji Kimpioka contract situation

Jack Ross.
Jack Ross.

Jack Ross says Stewart Donald has no say over his team selections after the Sunderland owner revealed his strong stance on those younger players who don’t sign new deals.

But Ross does agree with Donald’s overall aim which is to prevent another Josh Maja scenario happening at Sunderland.

Earlier this week, Donald, speaking on the Roker Rapport podcast, revealed he’d told Ross not to play striker Benji Kimpioka, or any of the club's youth players, if they don't sign new deals.

Kimpioka, 19, is one of three players who have been offered a new contract along with Denver Hume and Elliot Embleton.

Hume, who has broken into the first team this campaign, and Embleton will both see their current contracts expire at the end of the season - but Donald is hopeful the pair will put pen to paper soon.

A deal for Kimpioka, who has a year left on his deal and came off the bench against Coventry City last weekend, could prove trickier.

Donald told the Roker Rapport podcast: "With Benji he's already got a contract and another year to run and I don't want another Josh Maja scenario at this football club.

"If he got into the first team and January comes along and he'd done well like Josh had done, he's got six months left on his contract, we'd expose ourselves again having promoted him.

"I've said with Benji, and a couple of others who have got one year left, that they need to commit their future to the football club.

"I've said to Jack (Ross) and I've said to the staff, if they don't commit you're not allowed to play them, I don't want players who won't commit their future if we feel we are being fair with

them with regards to the offers.”

Responding to those comments, Ross told the Northern Echo: “In terms of Stewart having any influence over my team selections, that simply isn’t the case.

“As an owner, Stewart would be the last person you’d expect to do that, and I’m probably the last type of manager that would accept that either. It just isn’t me. I’m not saying that in a

bullish way, I just wouldn’t do the job if someone was trying to interfere.

“What I think he was trying to say is that if we’re investing in players, then you obviously want to see the benefit of that investment. Josh’s situation has made Stewart look into how we can

try to prevent that kind of thing happening again.

“As a football club, we’re no different to any other business in a different sphere. If you’re investing in someone, you hope that how they then blossom and mature is of benefit to you. I

know we work in a different business in some ways, but really it’s no different to a business having an apprentice.

"If you invest in their development, you then hope they commit themselves to you.

“That’s what I think he was trying to say rather than how it’s been interpreted. It’s easy for me to say it, but it’s simply not the case that he would try to have any influence over my team

selections.”

Ross, meanwhile, remains confident Denver Hume will sign a new deal, his current contract runs out this summer.

He added: “We’ve been working really hard with that, and I’ve been pushing long and hard to get this done.

"He’s one I think will get even better for us. Already, what he’s done this season has been a great step forward for him, and I would love him to be here, irrespective of what league we’re in,

because I think he would be an asset to us."