Sunderland boss reacts to impressive Alim Ozturk and Jimmy Dunne display after bold decision pays off against Doncaster

Alim Ozturk in action for Sunderland in the win over Doncaster Rovers.
Alim Ozturk in action for Sunderland in the win over Doncaster Rovers.
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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.”