Jack Ross backs Alim Ozturk to keep bouncing back as he weighs up debuts for summer signings

Jack Ross has backed Alim Ozturk to bounce back from the difficult start to his Sunderland career.

Friday, 31st August 2018, 7:00 am
Sunderland's Alim Ozturk (right) and Charlton Athletic's Karlan Ahearne-Grant battle for the ball.

Ozturk dropped out of the side after a poor performance on the opening day of the season, but after replacing Glenn Loovens at half-time last weekend, he showed considerable improvement.

The 25-year-old is a player Ross knows well from their time at Hearts and Ross has no doubts that he can change the opinion of any unconvinced supporter.

Loovens is a doubt for Saturday’s clash with Oxford United which could hand Ozturk his second league start of the season.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“He’s a really nice young man Alim, and he takes his football really seriously,” Ross said.

“He’s felt the disappointment. His overall performance against Charlton was OK, it was one individual error that probably masked elements of the performance that were fine.

“Not in my eyes obviously but in terms of the general perception.

“Football is fickle, quick judgements are made and it takes a lot longer to turn that around.

“Psychologically though it was great for him to come on and make a contribution as we turned the game around.

“To deal with the challenges he faced, because it wasn’t easy.

“I’m pleased for him and as a manager it is good because it just reinforces the overall message that it will be the whole squad that gives us success.

“We’ve already seen that.”

Ross will assess how Charlie Wyke and Tom Flanagan come through training on Friday before deciding whether to select them in the matchday squad.

“If they don’t have a reaction from Thursday’s session and Friday then we’ll look include them in the squad,” he said.

“Whether that’s in the 18 or just around it we’ll see. They’ve done a lot of conditioning work it is just building up the football side.”

Midfielder Dylan McGeouch is pushing for his first competitive start after impressing in the second half at AFC Wimbledon.

Ross believes he will benefit from being eased back into action in the last few weeks as his midfield team-mates have performed admirably.

Ross said: “Dylan being back available has been a boost for us.

“I think the length of time he was out, it has helped to be able to drip feed him back into the side.

“From his history in his career, sometimes he’s been thrown back in quickly and it’s been problematic for him.

“I still think he’s getting back to full fitness because he had a period out and also, he had missed a bit of pre-season by the time he came and joined with us.

“It’s been a little bit fragmented but he’s trained well again this week and he’s certainly in contention for Saturday because of the contribution he’s made off the bench.

“But a bit like Charlie’s situation, it’s fantastic to have players of that quality now back in and around the squad.”