Jack Ross reacts as Sunderland's unbeaten run ends and says fatigue is no excuse
Jack Ross says there were no excuses for Sunderland's dismal showing against Walsall, rejected any notion that fatigue was behind their defeat.
Sunderland have faced a punishing schedule this season and looked well short of their usual levels against an organised opposition.
Ross, however, took the blame for the showing and admitted that some fringe players didn't take their opportunity in the side.
"Fatigue is no excuse," Ross said.
"Walsall played Saturday and have had a similar fixture list.
"Our conditioning levels are good enough as a squad and there was a freshness about our team.
"I've absolutely no excuses for tonight other than we didn't play well.
"First and foremost that should always fall on me, first as a manager because it's my preparation and my selection.
"It was disappointing to come out the competition but disappointing in terms of the performance level as well," he added.
"It was a night where we didn't play particularly well, especially in the first half.
"At least in the second half, post the substitutions, we had a greater intensity even if we still didn't play particularly well.
"It was one of those nights, I don't want to say you want to quickly forget because you always want to take something from a game, but it wasn't a memorable one for us."
Sunderland failed to score in a competitive game for only the second time this season.
The first time was all the way back in August, when the Black Cats lost to Sheffield Wednesday in the Carabao Cup.
Missing the talismanic Aiden McGeady and the impressive Lynden Gooch, Sunderland struggled to create chances and Ross admits his side 'lacked a spark'.
"That record is a very good one and is a credit to the players," Ross said.
"But yes, it was a night when we didn't look very threatening.
"We huffed and puffed but lacked that spark.
"I've been fairly fortunate this season that each and every time players have taken their opportunities.
"This is probably the healthiest our squad has been this season, and I think players have that awareness that they need to play well to get in the team and remain there.
"Tonight, individually, a lot didn't reach the levels they are capable of.
"That gives you more to ponder in terms of selection moving forward."