Jack Ross on January planning, Stewart Donald and why Sunderland are in ‘a good place’

Sunderland manager Jack Ross.
Sunderland manager Jack Ross.
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Jack Ross says he and Stewart Donald are signing from the same hymn sheet when it comes to the January window.

Donald said this week that he hoped to provide some support for Ross, who he felt wanted one or two additions.

Sunderland have to be mindful of EFL financial rules but Donald is buoyed by growing off-field revenues.

He is determined not to spend beyond the club’s means, however, and has admitted that the wage bill is still higher than he would like.

So some element of turnover is to be expected when the window opens but Ross is more than comfortable.

He says there is ‘no desperation’ on his part.

“It’s a continual process [planning] for us, even from when the last window shut in August,” Ross said.

“Looking at players who may be available [in future].

“Being dilligent in terms of players who’ve even impressed us when we’ve played against them in League One, making notes of that and who might be available in that sense.

“In terms of Stewart, I was most aligned with what he said [this week] in terms of, he’s always been supportive in what I’ve wanted to try and do.

“At this moment, there’s no desperation for anything.

“We’re in a good place.

“Again, it can change in the next eight weeks but I don’t want to do it for the sake of it, I’ve always worked on that basis.

“Stewart knows that, there’s a decent thought process behind whatever I ask for, on and off the pitch.

“It’ll be the same in terms of recruitment.

“Some of it will hinge on Duncan and Charlie’s return as well.

“If they return fit and healthy then in the forward areas, we’re OK.

“But it’s nice to know that Stewart is being positive about it [the window]. It’s definitely a positive.”

Sunderland are benefiting from a good bond between manager and chairman as they plot their way back up the leagues.

“I’ve got a really good personal relationship with Stewart.

“Monday night, I didn’t leave the Academy until well after 8 o’clock, because we were sat having a chat. Just about stuff in general.

“How he comes across in interviews, podcasts, is exactly how he is.

“It’s refreshing and it makes my job a lot easier.”

Duncan Watmore’s progess will have a significant impact on Sunderland’s January plans and to that end Ross is hugely encouraged.

“He’s done three weeks of full training now,” he said.
“He’s pretty much bang on 11 months now. My understanding of it is, with the type of injury he’s had, you always estimate a 10-12 month period.
“Then there’s an element attached to it with the potential of re-injury. The longer you can go within that timeframe, the less chance there is [of recurrence].
“That’s important and why we’ve always worked to the latter end of the scale, rather than rushing him. I think he’s appreciated me being consistent with that. 
“I think in the very near future we’ll get him some gametime, one way or another [U23’s or behind closed doors].
“He’s feeling really, really good in terms of his knee. He’s getting little aches and pains, which he will do across other areas of his body.
“But to get to 11 months without rushing anything is a real positive thing,” Ross added.
“I keep going back to it, but we have to make sure that when he’s back, he’s back. For our sake and for his sake.

“It’s been brilliant for us [having him train], how he is as a character and a personality has not been in doubt since day one,” Ross said.
“He was one of the first people I met when I came into the job as he was one of the few people in the building at that time. That relationship we were able to build quite early. I enjoy his company and spending time with him, I like his attitude.
“But I’m really starting to see the qualities he brings on the pitch now,” he added. 
“We did some attacking work today and he was with the other guys who have been featuring lately. We had Aiden, George, Josh, Chris, Jerome, Lynden, Duncan, all these players, and the quality was brilliant.
“Duncan very much fits in with that but brings something a bit different as well. 
“I’m prepared to wait but it is exciting for me. I could’t go out and find a player of his ilk [to bring in].”