Jack Ross reveals the key role Grant Leadbitter played in Sunderland win over Portsmouth

Sunderland skipper Grant Leadbitter made his first league start of the season in the 2-1 victory over promotion rivals Portsmouth, with the 33-year-old producing a tireless display.

Sunday, 18th August 2019, 6:44 pm

Leadbitter, a January signing from Middlesbrough, played a key role in the much-needed victory, keeping up constant midfield pressure on Pompey and encouraging teammates throughout.

Leadbitter’s influence on the game wasn’t lost on manager Jack Ross, the skipper also delivering a pinpoint corner for Jordan Willis to head home.

Ross said: “We know how much passion and feel he has for the club.

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“He has greater responsibility now with the captaincy and he knows the strength in competition for places.

“When Max and Grant took that chance in the Carabao Cup they recognised they had to play well and they did that.

“That is why they deserved to start and they then replicated that performance.

“Grant has looked fit and strong pre-season. We worked hard and it was tough but it is testament to his professionalism that there was no letting up from him, despite being obviously at the latter part of his career.

Sunderland skipper Grant Leadbitter in action against Portsmouth.

“He had a big influence on the game and he pulls people around and makes demands of other people, he was hugely important in a game like that."

On Willis’ header, Ross added: “Jordan is not a huge centre-half but he has a good spring on him.

“When you have Grant in the side what you get is a consistency and quality in delivery.

“He showed that when he came into the club last season and his delivery was really, really good.”