Jack Ross believes Sunderland’s supporters could prove to be a ‘big plus’ in the home leg of their play-off semi-final with Portsmouth.
That’s despite the fact just over 21,500 home tickets have been sold for the play-off clash - which is below the Black Cats’ average attendance.
Online figures show that 21,747 tickets had been sold as of 6pm on Thursday, although this tally does not include Portsmouth’s allocation of 2,000 and any spectators in hospitality in areas.
And with Sunderland having approximately 24,000 season ticket holders, the latest sales figures for the play-off semi-final had some supporters concerned with the crunch clash just two days away.
But the club are expecting uptake to increase in the build-up to the game, with the quick turnaround time from the confirmation of the tie last weekend likely a factor.
And in a statement today, Sunderland advised supporters to purchase their tickets early to avoid lengthy queues on the day of the game.
“Sunderland supporters are advised that there will be no cash turnstiles in operation for Saturday’s play-off semi-final first leg game against Portsmouth,” they said.
“Supporters are strongly advised to secure their seats in advance where possible, with the 24/7 online ticketing service being the quickest and easiest way to buy tickets.
“The Stadium of Light ticket office will open from 10am until kick off at 7.30pm on the day of the game. Supporters wishing to purchase or collect pre-paid tickets on Saturday are strongly advised to do so as early as possible.
“Queues will build up closer to kick off, collecting or buying early will ensure that supporters do not experience delays in entering the stadium.”
The Wearsiders lowest attendance of the campaign thus far has been the 27,580 crowd that turned out at the Stadium of Light against Blackpool in February - with the majority of home supports this season topping the 30,000 mark.
And manager Jack Ross is hoping to see another bumper crowd in attendance for the clash with Portsmouth on Saturday - believing the home support could prove to be a positive factor in the race for promotion.
“The fan base here has been incredibly loyal,” he said.
“We’ve had some really enjoyable occasions this season, both away from home and at home.
“Some of the occasions at home - Chalrton on the first day of the season, the recent home matches against Doncaster and Portsmouth - the atmosphere in the stadium was terrific.
“It’s a huge plus for us when it’s like that, but you can never take that for granted or expect that to be the case.
“We have a duty to provide something on the pitch to make people feel that way from the stands.”