A number of senior Sunderland players are likely to sit out the Checkatrade Trophy clash with Newcastle United U21s on Tuesday night.
While the prospect of a trip to Wembley is beginning to loom on the horizon, Jack Ross rejected any suggestions that this could be considered a ‘derby game’ and will approach it as he has the previous games in the competition.
That means minutes for fringe players and some youngsters.
“We track all the minutes [players have had],” Ross said.
“Paul Walsh (Sports Scientist) is really good, I have a good relationship with him.
“His visual stuff is good in terms of allowing us to see where players are at.
“Your memory can play tricks on you a little bit, you can think someone has not featured much but they have and vice versa.
“So we’ll have ones involved against Newcastle who’ve need minutes, some who are in the mid-range and then some young ones.
“Then, as I’ve mentioned, we’ve got ones who have played a lot of football and need a breather.”
Alim Ozturk and Jerome Sinclair are likely to play, while Benjamin Kimpioka could feature as Ross deals with a number of injury issues.
Duncan Watmore is another who is set for more minutes while talented youngster Bali Mumba looks likely to have a prominent role.
“It’s good for Bali hat it hasn’t fallen in an international week,” Ross said.
“He showed in the last round how good a player he is, playing out of position.
“It’s a good game even in his progression, with it having that slightly different feel about it.
“There will be a bit more intensity and probably a bit of a bigger crowd than bigger Checkatrade games. “