Jack Ross on Wembley pride, Sunderland’s plans and selection thoughts
Jack Ross says he will take great pride in being able to reflect on leading Sunderland out at Wembley.
The Black Cats will travel to the capital on Saturday lunchtime ahead of Sunday’s Checkatrade Trophy final against Portsmouth.
Ross will be backed by family and says he is fully aware of the significance of the occasion.
“My wife and two girls are going down, my mum and dad and mother and father-in-law too.,” he said.
“They will enjoy their weekend, making a proper weekend of it, doing different things in London.
“For my mum and dad and Dad, in particular, like a lot of dads he has travelled here there and everywhere over the years, this type of occasion, I’m sure he will enjoy it.
“When you grow up immersed in football, I grew up when cup final day was huge, FA Cup final and Scottish Cup Final day, the build-up was huge, Wembley and Hampden have been a big parts of my upbringing, I have always understood the significance of it.
“When you are fortunate enough to have a career in football you want to play at these venues, I was lucky enough to play at Hampden on a couple of occasions but never at Wembley,” he added.
“To have the chance to lead a team out at Wembley as a manager is something that in the fullness of time I will take great pride in.”
Ross confirmed that the injured members of his squad will travel down for the showpiece occasion, as well as some of the youngsters who have impressed during Sunderland’s long run to the final.
However, there is little prospect of those youngsters being in the 18.
Like Kenny Jackett, Ross will replicate his approach to the semi final by naming the strongest squad possible.
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That will almost certainly mean disappointment for the likes of Mumba and Benji Kimpioka.
“Chris [Maguire] and Duncan [Watmore] will travel,” Ross said.
“Max Stryjek, who is in and around the first team, will all travel down. Bali Mumba too.
“With the exception of the Under-23s, all those who have been involved in the squad all season will travel down for the final.”
“You have seen how we approached the semi-final, that is very much in line with how we will approach this weekend.[in terms of selection].”
The final sparks a frantic run-in for the Black Cats, who will play eight games in April.
The break before this clash has given Ross a final chance to prepare his players and he is confident they will deal with the demanding schedule.
I have not sensed any fatigue from them, mentally or physically. We had a tough schedule of games before the break.
“They worked really hard in training this week. They can deal with it. It is probably the last time we have to work as hard as that until the end of the season given the number of games coming up.
“We have a group who trust their fitness and feel fairly strong.”