Jack Ross lifts lid on Sunderland dressing room reaction to gut-wrenching Charlton defeat and Max Power injury blow
That was how Jack Ross summed up the feeling within the Sunderland dressing room after the cruelest of play-off final defeats.
Sunderland were seconds away from forcing extra time at Wembley stadium only to see their promotion hopes vanish when Patrick Bauer prodded home four minutes into added-on time.
Elation in the Charlton end. Devastation in the Sunderland end.
Ross, himself, left devastated following the late defeat.
The Sunderland boss said: “If you were down pitch-side, you would see how hurt and disappointed they are.
“It’s gut-wrenching for them. That’s the exact feeling you get at the pit of your stomach. They put so much into it.
“You know there’s always going to be a winner and a loser but I don’t think that group of players, with what they’ve given me all season and the way they played deserved to lose in that
“It is really sore for them right now. In the fullness of time, they may understand that that soreness will help them and strengthen them for whatever they do in the rest of their life.
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“But right now, it is really painful.”
Ross added: “I spoke to the players post-match and we spoke about things in general the last couple of days too.
“They have had a long season, they deserve to go away now, there is no point prolonging the disappointment.
“They need to spend time away from each other, spend some time with their families and help to get over the disappointment.”
Sunderland, who took the lead five minutes in thanks to Naby Sarr's shocking own goal, were dealt a blow when Max Power was forced off nine minutes in, Lewis Morgan coming on and
Sunderland forced into a reshuffle.
The midfielder could be seen comforting teammates at full-time wearing a protective boot on his right leg.
Ross added: “The early change disrupts a little bit the work you have done prior to the game but we have enough players who know how we want to play.
“It just is a sub that you don’t expect to make so early in the match and it is a blow for him too, he had been in good form.
“We couldn’t do an awful lot more in terms of making subs to affect trying to win the game, other than using a sub early on we were okay."