Josh Maja exit rumours and Sunderland injuries: FIVE key issues facing Jack Ross ahead of Walsall

Jack Ross will have to address these FIVE key issues
Jack Ross will have to address these FIVE key issues

Jack Ross is set to face the press ahead of Sunderland's visit to Walsall and will have plenty of issues to address.

The Black Cats are currently enjoying a 12-game unbeaten run in all competitions and are continuing to put pressure on League One leaders Portsmouth.

And a trip to the Banks's Stadium provides another opportunity for Sunderland to challenge for top spot - although it will be far from a foregone conclusion.

Ahead of the clash, Ross will have to address several key questions - including selection dilemmas, injury updates and contract talks.

Here's FIVE key issues facing the Sunderland boss ahead of the game:

WHAT'S THE LATEST ON THE INJURY FRONT?

Several of Sunderland's key players remain sidelined, and Ross will no doubt be asked by the press for the latest on their recoveries.

Lee Cattermole hasn't featured since the win over Southend United last month, but how long will he remain out for?

Likewise, the trip to Coventry City was the last time Denver Hume featured for the Black Cats and fans will no doubt be keen to discover when the youngster is set for a return.

While not a first team regular under Ross, Donald Love has also been sidelined with little update on his progress thus far.

Updates may also be provided on Sunderland's longer-term absentees in Charlie Wyke and Duncan Watmore.

WILL JOSH MAJA START AHEAD OF JEROME SINCLAIR?

Many fans were surprised to see Watford loanee Sinclair handed a start ahead of Maja last weekend, especially given the teenager's fine form thus far.

And given his goalscoring cameo from the bench, Maja may well be in pole position to earn the lone striker role for the trip to Walsall.

While Ross is unlikely to give too much away when it comes to selection, the selection dilemma up top is certainly a hot topic at the moment.

WILL FACING WALSALL TWICE IN A WEEK MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE?

In a bizarre set of circumstances, Sunderland will travel to Walsall twice in a week.

This Saturday's league clash will be followed up with an FA Cup second round tie at the Banks's Stadium a week later.

So will these two fixtures in close proximity affect Jack Ross' plans?

WHAT'S THE LATEST ON CONTRACT TALKS?

After Stewart Donald revealed that the club were in talks over new deals for several players, fans have been keen for an update.

Josh Maja, Denver Hume, Lynden Gooch, George Honeyman and Max Stryjek are all earmarked for new contracts - with talks still ongoing.

The likes of Adam Matthews and Robbin Ruiter see their deals expire at the end of the campaign too, and Ross may provide the latest.

WHAT HAVE SUNDERLAND MADE OF THE JOSH MAJA EXIT RUMOURS?

There has been heavy speculation over the future of Maja in recent weeks - with the likes of Middlesbrough, Manchester City and Tottenham linked with a move.

While Sunderland remain hopeful he will sign a new deal, Ross may be asked for his verdict on the rumours.