Jack Ross explains why Benji Kimpioka missed out on the Sunderland squad for cup win

Jack Ross says Benji Kimpioka’s absence from the Sunderland squad on Wednesday night was purely down to recent performance in the U23 set-up.

Friday, 27th September 2019, 12:00 pm
Updated Friday, 27th September 2019, 13:01 pm
Benji Kimpioka scores against Middlesbrough U23s, a game in which he was sent off after the final whistle

A raft of injuries to senior places left the Black Cats boss needing to draft in two youngsters to complete his matchday squad.

Centre-back Brandon Taylor was selected to cover for Joel Lynch and Tom Flanagan while in attack, Lee Connelly was preferred to Kimpioka.

The Swedish forward made nine appearances last season and spent time during pre-season with the first team squad, but has recently fallen down the pecking order.

A dispute over a new contract continues, though Ross said that was not a factor in his absence.

Sign up to our Sunderland AFC newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The 19-year-old was also absent from the U23 squad that lost 1-0 to Swansea City on Sunday, though it transpires that was for a red card shown for an altercation following the final whistle against Middlesbrough, a agame in which he scored from the penalty spot.

“He’s not injured,” Ross said.

“He was suspended on Sunday, he got sent off after the game against Middlesbrough.

“In terms of Wednesday night, we had to utilise a couple of the U23 players.

“It was based on what we needed positionally the ones who have been doing the best recently.

“Lee’s goalscoring record has been good recently, he’s infectious and enthusiastic in everything he does.

“It was based on nothing more than that.”

Kimpioka is out of contract next summer and has been locked in protracted talks with the club.

His agent recently told fan site Roker Report that he would only commit his future if he becomes a first team player.

That drew a terse response from Ross, who said earlier this month: “Benji has been offered a contract, a good contract, and to date he has chosen not to sign it.

“That’s the choice of the player and the player’s representative and let’s not allow anything else to cloud that.

“I would like him to stay at the club, I think he has potential. We’ve offered him what we feel is a good contract for a young player who has shown potential but not achieved anything in his career yet.”