Sunderland press conference: Jack Ross reveals defensive concerns and Wembley dreams in Carlisle preview
Jack Ross addressed the press this afternoon ahead of the Checkatrade Trophy clash with Carlisle United - and there was plenty on the agenda.
The Cumbrians visit the Stadium of Light in the Black Cats' second group stage game, and Jack Ross is already targetting the 'prizes' at the end of the competition.
But the Scot is concerned over Sunderland's lack of clean sheets, but brushed off talk of any discipline issues.
Here's what Ross said when he faced the press in the TV section of his press conference:
Thoughts on the Bradford City draw?
"It was eventful again for us, each and every game for us has been.
"Saturday was a terrific game and the atmosphere, we are getting better at dealing with it too, we showed that again."
Are the number of red cards being received a concern?
"I would argue the first [Power] one, we did appeal it, and that it wasn't a deserved red.
"If you take that out, the two in the consecutive games, they have been red card offences and are out of character for both players.
"It is Max's second of the season but it doesn't fit with his previous career history. They are mistakes, wrong decision made at the time by the player.
"It maybe a by-product of the intensity around our games at the moment.
"The season as a whole has been a period of learning constantly."
Is there a good spirit in the group at the moment?
"The players deserve the credit, they have to deal with the difficulty of the situation.
"Saturday worked out as a good half hour being down to ten men, it is credit to their fitness, spirit and character as a whole group. It has been the same since day one.
"Every challenge they have responded well. It stands us in good stead.
"Whenever players have found themselves out the squad they have all grasped the opportunity when it does come, that reflects their ability but also their mindset.
"Every player that came off the bench made a really good contribution on Saturday, and I would highlight George.
"His reaction, when we were down to ten men, was brilliant, he covered a lot of grass.
"There is a good healthy competition and good players respond to that and want to keep it and respond to it."
How are Sunderland adapting to life in League One - is the game more physical the lower down you go?
"I don't think it is more physical particularly, there is a physicality to football at all levels.
"Just sometimes it is demonstrated in different ways.
"We have had more periods where you have to defend more frantically. Emotions may run slightly higher.
"I have a group that train in a very disciplined way every day. There is a group of players desperate to do well, it is a fine line to tread at times and not allow it to amount in moments of frustration."
Is the lack of clean sheets a concern?
"Yes, but we have only lost one game in 12.
"It concerns me enough to get better at it but we have been a good side this season. Those rewards in terms of clean sheets will come.
"We have good enough players to do that. I encourage players to be expansive in forward areas."
Looking ahead to Carlisle, is it a good chance to build some momentum?
"You want to start to build that momentum.
"On the flip side, there is not often you get a breather in this league. Although we will have to squeeze the Blackpool game in it does mean we can get some rest into the players.
"We have reasons for it, our first choice goalkeeper would have been missing for Blackpool, Tom Flanagan too, we would have had players short.
"All in all, it is not a bad thing for us [the break]."
How do you view the Checkatrade Trophy?
"It is a strange competition in some ways but it is important we talk it up because of the prizes at the end of it.
"There are arguments to be had about the format of it and the challenges that brings. My only argument is that the tournament doesn't count towards suspensions, we have been over that ground before with Max. That is a fault in the competition.
"Other than that I have no issue with it.
"It adds to a punishing schedule but it is the same for every League One and League Two club involved in it.
"Anybody that came to the Stoke game knows we approached it properly. It will be the same for us tomorrow night.
"We don't have a game Saturday. The prize at the end is a good one, it is silverware as well. Our approach remains consistent."
What's the latest injury and team news?
"We have 14 players unavailable.
"We are so stretched because players are away on international duty, suspended or injured.
"There is a real mix why players are unavailable. We have 10/11 first-team players available.
"The team that will play is pretty much the one that can play!
"A lot of the players are unavailable. There are players who have had injuries or have not played a lot that would have played, your Bali Mumba's, but he is away with England.
"In terms of first players, we have 10 or 11 available, the rest will be U23 players. A lot of the stronger 23 players are out on loan.
"The positive to us being stretched is that we don't have a game on Saturday."
On the three new injury concerns, Ross added: "Jerome has a slight hamstring problem from Saturday, Josh has had an ongoing ankle problem and to his credit has still been playing.
"Lee, it is just a maintenance one, he put a lot of effort into Saturday as well. It is 14 in total, quite a lot!"