Ball wants Sunderland to add quality to their workrate

Sunderland caretaker manager Kevin Ball.
Sunderland caretaker manager Kevin Ball.
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ULTIMATE commitment is the least Kevin Ball expects from his players going into the daunting game against Manchester United tomorrow.

The former Black Cats skipper (pictured) was famous for his fearless attitude on the pitch during his own playing days.

And the acting head coach has been delighted with the fighting spirit his players have shown against Peterborough United and Liverpool in his two games in charge.

But he warns that pure effort alone will not be good enough against the Premier League champions, despite their own disappointing start to the campaign.

“I think the thing that has pleased me most about these two games has been the sheer amount of effort the players have put into the games and how hard they have worked for each other,” said Ball.

“But, for me, that is the starting point rather than the be all and end all.

“I have told the players that is the least they can give though and that should be their bench mark.

“On top of that, they need to produce quality and discipline and focus on playing well too.”

Ball plans to adopt a “horses for courses” approach again this weekend and will look to put out the players and the system he feels are best suited to getting a good result from the United match.

“The players have worked hard during the week and we’ve been pleased with them,” added Ball.

“There may be a player or two who is disappointed not to be in the starting XI or who doesn’t make the squad.

“But it’s important that they accept that they still have a job in supporting the team and doing what they can to encourage their team-mates.

“We’re trying to build a sense of togetherness in the squad, of everyone pulling together, and I believe that we’re making progress in that direction.”

David Moyes’s team selection will be interesting given that Manchester United appeared to have the right balance in Wayne Rooney’s absence – in the midweek Champions League draw at Shakhtar Donetsk.

Yet Rooney has undoubtedly been United’s star performer this season and, with five goals in his last five games, will be an automatic choice if he recovers, as expected, from the shin injury sustained in training on Tuesday.