Jack Ross on the squad selection process that almost led to Sunderland midfielder snub
Jack Ross is expecting a quiet January and a big part of that is a squad that fully fit offers all kinds of options.
That was never more obvious than his team selection last week.
Dylan McGeouch, an influential midfielder at times this season, was not even on the bench.
A late injury to Reece James meant he did step into the squad and at half time he almost got the call.
Ross says that initial snub was no reflection on the 25-year-old and merely an indication of the decisions he will increasingly have to make in the coming weeks.
"It was one that, it wasn't really a reflection on my thoughts on him," Ross said.
"It was more, the balance I needed in terms of the options I would need for the game.
"On Saturday, that'll probably be different.
"I try and pick a bench that reflects how I think a game will go and the options I'll then need to change it.
"That changes every week.
"It probably just highlights how the strength we have in the squad now that we're getting back to full health.
"Dylan, like a lot of the players, will have a big part to play over the next four to five weeks just because of the number of fixtures we have."
Speaking last week, Ross said that he had been pleased with McGeouch but urged him to make an even bigger impact in forward areas.
"Fitness wise, it's obviously good to have him back," Ross said.
"He's had a little bit of a stop-start season, to a degree.
"We spoke a little bit about Reece [James] still having a bit more to give, I think Dylan would fall into that category.
"I know him really because of how often I watched him in Scotland and we're still trying to encourage him to affect the game more going forward because he has the ability to do so.
"It's just about the encouragement to get him to play forward as much as he can," he added.
"I can't criticise him because when he's been asked to do a job in games he's done fine. It's just encouraging him to believe that he can he show his qualities every single game."
McGeouch has a good chance of being in the squad at Fratton Park on Saturday, his discipline and composure often a big help to the side on the role.