Sunderland press conference: Jack Ross reveals latest on Josh Maja contract talks, Didier Ndong and injuries

Jack Ross faced the press this afternoon ahead of Sunderland's trip to Coventry - and there was plenty on the agenda.

Thursday, 27th September 2018, 4:24 pm
Updated Thursday, 27th September 2018, 4:27 pm
Jack Ross faced the press today - here's what he said

As well as previewing the trip to the Ricoh Arena, Ross addressed the hot topics of the day at the Stadium of Light as he fielded questions on Josh Maja, Didier Ndong and the club's current injury worries.

Here's what Ross had to say at the Academy of Light:

Jack Ross faced the press today - here's what he said

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Ross on whether Josh Maja's contract talks have begun...

"No, these conversations don't often take place directly between a manager and a player but the desire from us to keep them is concrete.

"That's not just because of how he has started the season, it was there from the moment I started working him.

MORE: Jack Ross reacts to the decision to sack Didier Ndong"Naturally his start to the season has just heightened the attention around him, so we want to make sure he stays here at Sunderland and that he plays a part in the clubs' ambitions.

"He'll have decisions to make when that comes around, but one thing I think about him is he is happy and enjoying his football.

"Hopefully, as a young man, he is not too much of a rush to get somewhere he may get to eventually if he keeps doing what he's doing."

Ross on whether he had to strive to keep Maja in the summer...

"I think a number of players were very uncertain about what lay ahead.

"That was natural given everything that had happened at the club. I was somebody they didn't know and hadn't worked with before.

"There was a change of ownership as well and at the start of pre-season a lot of players would have come in with uncertainty around their future role, whether they were wanted and whether they wanted to be here.

"We had to make sure we created that environment for all the players and he is one who has flourished under that.

"We could encourage him that he could play regularly and score goals and it would stand you in good stead for the rest of your career.

READ: Jack Ross responds to Charlie Methven's controversial 'parasite' comments"He's seen that reward has come for him pretty quickly and he understands that if he does that over the course of a whole season then it will give him a great platform to kick on."

Ross on how highly he rates Maja...

"What Josh has, if strip back his attributes, he has a lot that gives him the chance to play at a really good level.

"He has little bits of his game that he needs to improve upon, but it's about balancing that out and strengthening what he is already good at.

"He has a really good starting point because of his mindset. He's intelligent, he's bright and he wants to get better and makes demands on us to make him better and takes in information.

"I am excited about him. I think you forget he's only 19 as well.

"Physically he is able to cope with the demands a of the game nowadays so it's a really good start for him I think he has enough in his locker already to give him a good possibility of playing at a really good level."

Ross on Didier Ndong's sacking...

"It has been relatively easy for me as a manager because of the work behind the scenes by other people, it meant I've not had to deal with a lot of it.

"I made my stance clear in terms of what I was trying to build on the training pitch and in the squad.

MORE: Sunderland ace takes a 'big step forward' in training this week"I am grateful the owners have been in alignment with me in terms of their thinking, they been consistent and strong in their actions.

"It is difficult for me to comment in detail because I'm sure matters with Djilobodji and Ndong will take time to resolve completely but it is a statement of intent in terms of how we want to progress the club and take it forward."

Ross on whether Ndong was put through a fitness test...

"No. The situation had developed far beyond that.

"My dialogue and involvement with not only the player - or any representatives - had been pretty much non existent.

"I am grateful as it allowed me to concentrate on what I had in the building and making that better."

Ross on whether he was tempted to utilise Ndong...

"No, not from my side as a manager.

"To try and develop a culture within your club - it is relative in all walks of life - it is not an easy thing to do, it can very easily be tipped the other way.

"I'm not casting aspersions on that one individual player to say he would do that but we have done well to build the spirit in a short period of time, we don't want to come away from that.

"The ones that have been at the club from day one have been very committed, the ones we have bought in have the right work ethic.

LIVE: Transfer latest from the Stadium of Light"We want to foster that and grow it and it is important we do that to get the club back through the leagues."

Ross on Duncan Watmore and other injury worries...

"We’re slowly but surely working our way back to a fully-fit squad,” said Ross.

"Duncan Watmore’s is a long-term injury, but he’s joined in with me this week and he’s getting closer, but he’s still a while away.

“The only other one is Donald Love, who has just had a wee niggle in his ankle.

“Apart from that, everyone else is fit which is good.”