Jack Ross says a late injury to Bryan Oviedo forced him to name just six substitutes for the 1-1 draw with Charlton Athletic.
Oviedo was due to travel with the team on Friday but suffered a late injury.
Ross had a number of absentees already and with Sunderland’s U23s due to face Newcastle United that afternoon, he made the call to take just 17 players in the squad.
“We only had 18 fit and available to travel, then Bryan Oviedo got injured in the last part of training yesterday and wasn’t fit to travel,” Ross said.
“There was an U23 game against Newcastle and I wasn’t going to pull anyone out of the team at the stage. You can only make three subs and I only made two in the end, so having six on the bench isn’t that tough.
“It was just through the set of circumstances that transpired.”
Ross admitted the result left the team with a ‘bittersweet’ feeling.
Sunderland were superb in the opening 40 minutes but missed a number of chances to double their advantage and saw Charlton come strongly back into the game after the break.
“I think that it’s difficult to say with certainty how we feel about it,” Ross said.
“It’s a little bit bittersweet because we started the game well, we created really good opportunities throughout the first half.
“You don’t take them which obviously allows Charlton to come back into it in the second half.
“However, it’s a really tough venue, their home record has been very good, not only through the course of the season but particularly recently. They’ve taken points off teams and they’ll continue to do so, they’re a good team.
“The perception of us in the league and the expectations on us means there’s disappointment whenever we don’t win a game and the reality is it’s a tough league with some good teams in it. some tough venues.
“Once we’ve dusted ourselves down I’m sure we’ll start to look at it as another point towards a total that will bring us success this season.”