Jack Ross on Josh Maja’s contract and why he’ll thrive even if another striker is signed

Have your say

Jack Ross expects Sunderland to address Josh Maja’s future once the loan window shuts, and has backed the youngster to be a key player even if another striker arrives.

Ross is determined to secure another forward, his options limited while Charlie Wyke and Jerome Sinclair recover from injury.

Luton Town FC 1-1 Sunderland AFC League1 11-08-02018. Picture by FRANK REID

Luton Town FC 1-1 Sunderland AFC League1 11-08-02018. Picture by FRANK REID

On Tuesday he was waiting for a response on a target that would offer direct competition for Maja, who has impressed in the early stages of the season and scored two goals in as many games.

Maja, who has just one year left on his current deal, was offered a new contract towards the end of last season by the previous regime, but no agreement was reached.

Joel Asoro was also offered a new deal, but while the Swede made clear he wanted to move on, Maja was happy to stay and be part of the club’s rebuild.

Ross expects talks to resume next month, with the new owners currently focused on seeking resolutions for high earners eager to move.

“From my perspective it is about trying to get the best out of Josh on the pitch,” Ross said.

“I think he’s been very receptive in that sense. Beyond that, I think it’s something that the club will address in the fullness of time.

“Until the window closes I think there will still remain that focus on some of the issues that we’ve got with some of the players that we need to move on.”

The 19-year-old will face a battle to maintain his place should Ross be successful in adding to his squad, particularly with Duncan Watmore hoping to return in the coming months.

Ross, however, insists that Maja can still develop and boost his reputation should that happen.

Indeed, the Black Cats boss believes that more variety in the forward areas could even help to further unlock the youngster’s finishing potential.

Ross said: “When I took the job I probably wasn’t sure exactly where he would fit because I knew he’d played some first team football but also that he was very young.

“Having worked with him from early on, I always thought he’d be part of my first team squad.

“Most managers would tell you that they want four strikers. So even if another one did come in I think we’d just be in a really healthy position.

“What he’s done is probably promote himself much further up in my thinking than before I took the job.

“When he’s got more support up there I’ve got no doubts he can continue in that kind of goalscoring form because he’s a really good finisher.

“If he plays anywhere between 24 and 45 games this season, scores anywhere between eight and 15 goals or whatever, then that’s great for his career.

“Not just here but elsewhere because all of a sudden people are aware that he can do it at first team level.”

Maja is likely to be rested on Thursday night for the visit of Sheffield Wednesday in the Carabao Cup, with Ross eager to protect him for the three league games that follow in just six days.