Jack Ross reveals what he told Sunderland dressing room in aftermath of Portsmouth victory
Jack Ross has told his promotion-chasing Sunderland squad they will all be needed over the course of a busy campaign.
Sunderland started the season with Dylan McGeouch and George Dobson in central midfield and Tom Flanagan partnering Jordan Willis and Conor McLaughlin in a back three.
A mix of disappointing results, poor performances and injury has seen Ross switch things up this week, Sunderland recording back-to-back wins in league and cup with a 3-1 Carabao Cup win over Accrington Stanley coupled with a 2-1 win over Portsmouth in League One.
Skipper Grant Leadbitter and Max Power seized their chance against Stanley, the pair again favoured against Pompey with fit-again McGeouch and Dobson, unlucky to have been dropped, on the bench.
Alim Ozturk replacing Tom Flanagan at the back again, with Sunderland switching to a flat-back four this week.
Ross is pleased with the competition for places, which is set to be strengthened further in the coming days with Sunderland targeting two to three more signings before the window closes.
Ross said: “Dylan, who I have been pleased with early in the season, he obviously had an ankle injury and missed the midweek game and George, we brought him to the club and thought it might be a slow burner adjusting, even though he has played a lot of games, but he hit the ground running with his performance level. He will back himself.
“He will get opportunities to play.
“We have eight games in August in total, we will need the whole squad over that period.”
On the promising Willis and Ozturk partnership, Ross added: “Similar to the midfield pairing, we made a decision Tuesday to freshen things up and change how we played the game and it gave that opportunity to Alim to come in and play well.
“He did that and continued that against Portsmouth.
“As a manager you want healthy competition for places, not to feel under pressure in a negative way but you want players to feel as if they have to keep performing to keep possession of the jersey and that is what the players have done.”