Jack Ross pinpoints key factor that brought Sunderland's unbeaten run to an end and how they can bounce back

Jack Ross says the defeat to Walsall was a reminder to his players about what they have to do off the ball.

Thursday, 13th December 2018, 9:37 am
Updated Thursday, 13th December 2018, 9:40 am
Aiden McGeady is set to return to action this weekend

Sunderland's impressive 16-game unbeaten streak came to a disappointing end on Tuesday night in the FA Cup second round replay as they fell to a 1-0 defeat.

Ross said he felt Sunderland's primary problems came out of possession, but he also added that the likely return of Aiden McGeady and Lynden Gooch this weekend will help the team.

"I watched the game back on Wednesday," Ross said.

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"I thought that in possession we were OK, I thought that we had a problem out of possession.

"We speak about it a lot, making the pitch big in possession, which we do really well.

"When you have Aiden and Lynden in particular that helps, they get players isolated and they're very good at it. You'll always miss that cutting edge in a wide area.

"But the pitch remained too big out of possession, that was my own criticism of the players. That was maybe that wee bit of flatness about the whole thing being a factor. Maybe a lack of energy to go and condense the pitch like you need to out of possession.

"There was bits that we didn't well enough but it's good as a wee reminder to us to know that if we don't do that, we make it more difficult for ourselves.

"We don't throw the ball forward for the sake of it, primarily because we can't, we don't have players that suit that," Ross added.

"Because we rely a lot on width and switches of play, Lynden and Aiden are important because they're the the two who are most natural in wide areas."

Duncan Watmore is set to be in the league squad for the first time this season, while Tuesday night also saw Lee Cattermole make his return.

He is contention to start, with Ross confirming he has 'three or four' decisions to make.

"He's pretty close, we have a lot of dialogue with him about how we manage him and his body," Ross said.

"I'll have a chat with him after training today, see how he feels.

"Because of the fixtures we have, continually picking up little bumps and bruises, the planning is a bit shorter if you like. I would normally know my team by now but there's three or four things we need to assess and Lee is one of them."