Jack Ross’ bold decisions paid off handsomely in the 2-0 win over Doncaster Rovers - with Alim Ozturk and Jimmy Dunne starring at the back for Sunderland.
Ross axed Jack Baldwin and Tom Flanagan following the shambolic 5-4 defeat to Coventry City last weekend, Sunderland coming back strongly with a convincing and comfortable win over Rovers.
It has given the club’s automatic promotion hopes a major boost and Ross was delighted with the impact of his new-look centre-back pairing.
The Scot, who worked with Ozturk at Hearts when Ross was a coach there, had no qualms about throwing the defender in for his first start in the league since September.
Dunne, a January loan signing from Burnley, was also in from the cold, the pair adopting a no-nonsense approach to their defending throughout the Stadium of Light win.
Ross said: “We decided quite early in the week the team we were going to play.
“It wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction to last weekend, Jack and Tom have played a lot of minutes this season, played a big part in us having a good season, I think last weekend was the first time they’d played together in a losing team, which is quite remarkable.
“But sometimes you make a call, not just on the performance but how training is and mentally too, Alim and Jimmy have done things properly when they have been out, they deserved the opportunity and I was pleased they both took it.”
On Ozturk’s impressive display, Ross added: “I was pleased for him on an individual basis, how he has conducted himself, he has worked really hard every day.
“When I made the decision to play him I told him early in the week, I have worked with him before, I know what he is capable of.
“I knew he would handle it psychologically, he has played in big games, physically it is a big ask, he started to fatigue towards the end.”
Sunderland’s display was impressive, in control from the off and Ross was delighted to kick-off an intense Easter period with a big three points.
He added: “It is very obvious to say at this stage of the season it is about results, I’d have taken any win but to play in the manner we did against a good team is really pleasing.
“On the back of losing here last week, that was sore and hurt, to respond in that way was really pleasing.”