Jack Ross explains why Sunderland duo Grant Leadbitter and Chris Maguire didn't start against Rotherham United

Jack Ross has explained why he made changes to the side that won at Accrington Stanley for the home draw with Rotherham United.

Wednesday, 18th September 2019, 1:43 pm
Sunderland manager Jack Ross looks on against Rotherham United.

Skipper Grant Leadbitter was named on the bench for last night’s 1-1 draw with Chris Maguire also benched, Conor McLaughlin and Dylan McGeouch starting instead.

Ross said Maguire was named on the bench as a result of an ongoing ankle issue, while McGeouch was brought in to freshen up central midfield.

Luke O’Nien switched from right-back to play alongside Marc McNulty, who scored after just 34 seconds.

Sign up to our Sunderland AFC newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But Sunderland were pegged back by Rotherham, the game ending in an all too familiar and frustrating 1-1 draw, with boos at the full-time whistle.

When quizzed about the changes, Ross said: "Chris obviously missed the Peterborough game with an ankle injury and was very much touch and go for Accrington.

“I thought long and hard about playing him because he still had some issues in training. That was primarily the reason behind that.

“Grant was just to freshen it up in that area of the pitch. But also we have a quick turnaround between Saturday and Tuesday, and we wanted to play a little bit differently.

“The first goal was an example of that.

“I think other aspects of the first half were a little bit more direct and I don't think Rotherham would have expected it because of the way we usually play at home.

“Luke playing in that position helped us do that as well, so it's good we have that flexibility to do that at times.”

McLaughlin, who had been booked, was subbed in the second half, with O’Nien reverting back to full-back.

Ross added: “We spoke at half-time about him being cautioned and he was playing against Jake Hastie who is direct and will get at full-backs constantly.

“Conor is intelligent enough to manage himself through the game, but the decision was made prior to the last foul he committed just before he came off.

“Again, having that flexibility in our squad enabled us to make that change."

Sunderland are back in action away to Bolton Wanderers on Saturday afternoon.