Aiden McGeady reacts to impressive goal stat as Jack Ross pays glowing tribute to Sunderland winger

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Aiden McGeady’s typically composed penalty against Gillingham sealed the three points for Sunderland and also took the winger into double figures for the first time in his career.

Taking penalties may have helped, but it is still an impressive achievement given the 32-year-old only began his season in September and had no pre-season at all.

Ever since almost turning this around off the bench for Sunderland in that first appearance at Burton Albion, he has been a talismanic presence for the Black Cats.

He has six assists to add to his goal tally, a reflection of how productive he has been under Jack Ross.

The Irish winger has no doubt he can add more between now and the end of the season.

“It’s been my highest scoring season so far in my career and I don’t want to say I expected to get 10, 15 goals this season but it was something in the back of my head that I thought I was capable of doing it,” McGeady said.

“I think I’ve always been capable of doing it, it’s just my finishing has not been as good as it should have been throughout my career because I’ve had that many chances.

“But to be in double figures is great, especially considering I didn’t play until September because of injuries.

“I’ll just keep on going and hopefully score more.

For Ross, the stat is a surprise given the level McGeady has reached throughout his career.

But it is also testament to his application on the training pitch and his willingness to embrace the challenge of getting Sunderland out of League One.

“He stays out on the training pitch with us, he’ll work with the players doing the finishing,” Ross said.

“That’s the thing about Aiden, he’s 32 and he’s a had great career but he’ll spend as much time as anyone out there.

“That’s to his credit and we’ve seen the results on the pitch.

“He’s made a huge contribution for me this season.

“He feels good, I think he’s enjoying his football. I had a long conversation with him on Thursday, he’s happy and he’s content.

“We play in a manner that suits him,” Ross added.

“We then ask a lot of him but he’s produced and he’ll continue to do that.

“He looks in a good place, he had a couple of games where he maybe dipped below his standards but those standards are very high.

“And of course the expectation on Aiden is that every time he gets the ball he will make something happen.

“So when the ball gets taken off him it’s a big deal.

“Even for him, because he has such high standards.

“People will have expected a lot of Aiden this season and just because he’s delivered, we shouldn’t then take that for granted.”

Having played against McGeady in the early stage of his Celtic career, when the winger became one of a select few to be named player and young player of the season at the same time, Ross knew coming into the job what a player he could be for him.

That was balanced against the obvious uncertainty regarding hsi future and it has been a significant bonus that the pair have been able to build a strong and productive partnership.

“You don’t how players will approach the league and the challenge ahead,” he said.

“You also don’t know they will adjust to the league itself. That’s another key point.

“One, his attitude has been terrific, he’s bought into how we do things and I think you can see that.

“And then he’s adjusted to the challenge of th eleague because it will be different to what he is used to.

“Not massively different but he’s made that adjustment and responded to it. “