Jack Ross discusses Sunderland's January planning and reveals Josh Maja and Lynden Gooch contract latest
Jack Ross isn't anticipating Sunderland doing a huge amount of January business but he is confident key players Josh Maja and Lynden Gooch will commit their futures to the club.
Sunderland’s squad saw a complete summer overhaul with 12 new faces and with the Black Cats second in League One, the squad is on track for promotion back to the Championship.
Ross is content with his current options, with Charlie Wyke and Duncan Watmore closing in on a return, though he stressed it is vital to stay ‘one step ahead’ when it comes to planning for January, with Sunderland well prepared should they look to strengthen.
Two deals that Sunderland are aiming to get done is to tie down 12-goal top scorer Maja and Gooch - who has six goals and eight assists to his name - to new deals, with both out of contract next summer.
Talks are ongoing and Ross offered an update ahead of the second round FA Cup clash at Walsall.
Ross said: “There has been continued dialogue between the board and their representatives.
“Like everything, sometimes these things are more prolonged but there is nothing as yet that would suggest they are not going to stay at the club, which is good.
“There are little bits and pieces that have to be tidied up, that is what the two parties are in the process of trying to do.
“The great thing for me is they are both playing well.
“There are two sides to that; one it makes them more attractive to other people but two it makes it more difficult for them to not want to be here, because why would they not want to be here when things are going well? This is a great club. It is just continuing at the moment.”
Both players scored in the 4-2 win over Barnsley on Tuesday night at the Stadium of Light.
Gooch, 22, has made an impressive contribution this campaign, Ross added: “He is my type of player.
“When I came to the club I was lucky I inherited some players that fit the way I like to play, I have spoken a lot about George Honeyman, how positive I speak about him and Lynden falls very much into that category.
“It is no coincidence that Lynden came through that group under Kevin Ball, he trains brilliantly all the time and I love how he plays.
“His understanding and game intelligence is really good.
“What he has given in terms of goals and assists this season is brilliant, I don’t see any reason for that to change.
“He is happy and enjoying himself and him and George are benefiting from having that run of games.”
On January and Sunderland’s plans, Ross said: “We kind of always try to put in place a model so that we are one step ahead, so if we do lose players unexpectedly through injury or sale or whatever it might be, that we have a plan in place.
“Then, you try and anticipate what might happen over the course of the season, post January and make sure you are best prepared for it.
“If you were to say that I can’t do any business in January I would be quite happy, I would be quite content because I have a good squad and they have proven themselves.
“You don’t do what they have done this season without being good and being able to handle the league.
“I am not anticipating us doing huge amounts in January, just make sure we are as prepared as possible for it.”
Sunderland has the small matter of seven league and cup games - eight if they need an FA Cup replay against Walsall - to squeeze in before the January transfer window opens.
Plenty then, to focus the mind of the manager.
Sunderland travel to Walsall tomorrow for the second round of the FA Cup, with Notts County the visitors to Wearside on Tuesday in the knockout stages of the Checkatrade Trophy.
Ross admits the schedule facing the Black Cats is relentless but he is pleased with the way his squad is coping with the demands.
“Any league outside the Premier League in this part of the world is relentless,” added Ross.
“The number of league games we’ve had and the fact we’ve progressed in these cup competitions to date means that it’s constant.
“Physically, I think the players are dealing with it well. I think they’ve shown already that their fitness levels are good and they’ve coped with a lot.
“Like everything, when you’re in good form it’s much easier to deal with. It sounds like I’m stating the obvious but it is the case. A lot of them are in good form individually and as a team they’re producing good results, which means they do look forward to games.
“It’s slightly frustrating as you spend less time on the training pitch, but we couldn’t be in a better position at the moment in terms of taking these games on.”