'That's controversial!': Sunderland fans react as Jack Ross makes surprising selection at Portsmouth

Jack Ross has handed Duncan Watmore a first league start in 13 months as Sunderland prepare to face Portsmouth. - with Josh Maja dropped.

Saturday, 22nd December 2018, 1:09 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th January 2019, 3:53 pm
Jack Ross has named his Sunderland side to face Portsmouth

Watmore's inclusion is one of three changes made by the Scot as the Black Cats prepare for their toughest test of the season so far.

The attacker - who stepped up his injury recovery last weekend - is joined by Reece James and Luke O'Nien in the starting line-up.

Jack Ross has named his Sunderland side to face Portsmouth

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Adam Matthews, Bryan Oviedo and Josh Maja drop out the side in a decision which has split supporters.

Here's how Sunderland fans reacted on social media:

@Andrewsafcbrown tweeted: "controversial!"

@Chubfubbler added: "Starting a game of this importance without a proper centre forward is a bit of a gamble for me."

@Leech27tom said: "Trust jack ross. Good players to bring in to either change the game or kill the game."

@JoeSmithies commented: "Our defence gives me shivers"

@newby08 asked: "Does this mean maja is off in jan?"

@andrewjamescain92 posted: "Seems to me if he’s going in for quick paced squad then to introduce king maguire and magic maja to finish the job"

@connorap1 said: "Verrrry underwhelmed at this team to play top of the league, no Maja is a huge decision. Wait and see what happens but don’t feel so good about it now..."

@peterjames73 commented; "Definitely take a point looking at the team. O’Nien done well defensively at RB against Walsall but wasn’t a threat going forward. Flanagan will be a huge miss. Maja on the bench is a strange choice. Three points would be huge though ..."

And here's the full team news from Fratton Park ahead of the top of the table clash:

Sunderland XI: McLaughlin, Baldwin, Loovens, James, O'Nien, Power, Cattermole, Honeyman, Gooch, McGeady, Watmore

Sunderland subs: Ruiter, Oviedo, Ozturk, Maguire, McGeouch, Maja, Sinclair

Portsmouth XI: MacGillivray, N Thompson, Whatmough, Clarke, Brown, Naylor, B Thompson, Lowe, Evans, Curtis, Hawkins

Portsmouth subs: Bass, Walkes, Burgess, Close, Green, Wheeler, Pitman