The three big calls Jack Ross is weighing up as he talks Sunderland tactics and selection

Sunderland travel to the Ricoh Arena on Saturday for a lunchtime clash where they will be backed by over 5,000 travelling fans.

Friday, 28th September 2018, 10:48 am
Updated Friday, 28th September 2018, 10:57 am
Bryan Oviedo has been pushing for a recall

After an excellent win last time out, much of the starting XI will pick itself, but the Black Cats boss still has a few big decisions to make...


Sunderland returned to the lopsided 3-5-2 last week and the results were impressive.

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Bryan Oviedo has been pushing for a recall

The Black Cats coasted to a 4-1 win, impressive without ever having to hit top gear.

Jack Ross said he and his coaching staff had reviewed the games during Sunderland's winless runs and noted that a number of individuals seemed to thrive in that particular system. Lynden Gooch and Josh Maja were the two obvious examples.

The return of Tom Flanagan further strengthened the system.

So does he stick with it away from home or does he need a more cautious approach?

"Right now that system suits us best," he said.

"The good thing is what we have in the squad right now means we can change it if needs be.

"We can go to a back four very easily, so there is that flexibility.

"That way of playing has been effective for us this season, though.

"If you'd asked me at the start of the season I'd have probably said that I'd have a maximum of two ways of playing, maybe this season we might need a bit more.

"We might need that element of surprise because opponents have done that to us.

"The balance is, if you're winning games and playing well within a system, do you keep trusting what you do and not worry so much about the opposition?

"You have these constant dilemmas every week."

Any major changes would be a surprise, but if Sunderland are under the cosh then expect them to tighten up quickly.


Max Power made a big impression at the start of his Sunderland career and most fans are eager to see him returned to the starting XI tomorrow.

Ross admitted last week ahead of the Rochdale visit that the 25-year-old gave him a different option to other midfielders in the squad.

"I think he's different to the other midfielders that we have," he said.

"At Burton we felt we had invited pressure, with not enough forward runs and passes. Max probably helps in both those senses. He helps mainly because he balances our options."

Dylan McGeouch is still reaching match sharpness but improved as the game went on last weekend and Ross has hinted that he will be cautious with Power tomorrow, particularly with the Peterborough United clash on the horizon.

"We’ve got three games this week, a tough away game and then a really big game on Tuesday. We’ll have to utilise the squad through that so having more options is a definite positive.

"There’s a lot of things consider.

"We won the game well last weekend and played reasonably well through parts of it. Max has actually been out for the best part of a month now as well, if it had been injury [people would say he’d needed time], although of course it’s a bit different because he’s trained. It’s actually exciting for me to have this. It’s a different challenge."


Ross has been full of praise for Oviedo and his response to being dropped last week, and his individual quality means he will always be pushing for selection.

Speaking after the Rochdale win, however, the manager's comments made clear that it would be tough to drop Hume.

"Every decision you make regarding team selection, you don’t do it on a whim. There’s usually some sort of consideration and corroboration behind it.

“Denver was very unfortunate not to play last week [at Burton] and keep his place in the team.

“When we decided to play this system, we then had to look and decide what we wanted from players in certain areas, and what we also needed as a team.

“We talked about physicality and aggression. I don’t think Bryan played poorly [against Burton], I just thought this was a game that would be better suited to Denver.

“Every time Denver has played this season, he’s been good. I don’t think anybody can argue with that.

“It’s just up to him to keep taking the opportunities, and I thought he did that against Rochdale.”