Jack Ross opens up on Wembley hopes and why he wants to deliver for Sunderland supporters
Jack Ross says he wants to reward Sunderland supporters by giving the chance to enjoy a day at the national stadium later this month.
The Black Cats can book their place in the Checkatrade Trophy final on Tuesday night should they beat Bristol Rovers at the Memorial Stadium.
Supporters endured a torrid two seasons as the club tumbled into League One, but have continued to turn out in remarkable numbers this season.
They have also delivered impressive attendances in this competition, with another bumper following heading south on Tuesday.
Ross says a chance to enjoy a showpiece final would be 'fitting reward'.
"Everyone is acutely aware of what it would mean to a lot of people if we were to get to Wembley," Ross said.
"It would be a reward for the commitment and loyalty the fans shown this season on the back of the two previous seasons.
"That occasion for them, it would be fitting for them.
"We're always aware of that responsibility that we carry.
"And stripping it back from the player's point of view, they absolutely want to get to the final now.
"There's no point doing all the hard work in getting to this stage without winning the game on Tuesday."
Promotion to the Championship remains the ultimate goal for Sunderland this season but Ross believes they can still manage that while having success in the Checkatrade.
He says the players are 'acutely aware' of what they could achieve this season and a win on Tuesday would be another step on that journey.
"Even from the beginning, we looked at it as an opportunity to win something," he said.
"I don't think you can ever turn your nose up at that.
"It doesn't rank alongside the FA Cup or the League Cup but it's still a cup.
"Promotion is still the ultimate goal and always has been.
"Winning the Championship is still a target and is still achievable.
"That matters most to us but if you can do both, fantastic.
"If we could do that, people will deserve a lot of credit for it.
"Getting to the final is the first challenge, it's a tough challenge for us but it's one that as a club, I think we're looking forward to it because it's a little bit different to a league game.
"The players are acutely aware of the prize at stake for them."