Jack Ross reveals his thoughts on Sunderland's possible play-off reunion with Portsmouth
Jack Ross believes that his Sunderland side would be well-equipped to tackle Portsmouth in the play-offs - despite failing to beat them in three meetings this season.
Both sides were dealt a promotion blow as they shared the spoils at the Stadium of Light, in a result which all-but consigns Sunderland to the lottery of the play-offs.
And there is a very real chance that the Black Cats may have to once again lock horns with Portsmouth should they progress through to the final, having already faced Kenny Jackett's side twice in the league and in the Checkatrade Trophy final this season.
While none of those meetings have ended in a Sunderland victory, Ross believes that such form shouldn't prove a concern in the play-offs - and he believes that his side's most recent performance against their promotion rivals prove they can mix it with any potential opponent.
“We lost a Fratton Park with ten men for 45 minutes, and we only lost the Checkatrade final on penalties, so the game was a draw," he said.
"Today, we’ve drawn the game but played well. I can break it down that way, so it wouldn’t concern me too much.
“When we play at that level, we give ourselves a very good chance of winning against any of the teams that will be in and around the play-offs."
While the result wasn't as desired, there could be little blame assigned to Sunderland's squad who battled admirably throughout the 90 minutes and laid siege on the Pompey goal in the dying minutes.
And Ross hopes that once the initial disappointment fades, that his side will be able to take the positives from a strong performance.
He admitted: “The players are the ones who put so much into that game to try to win it, mentally and physically.
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"The rawness of emotions is always heightened immediately after a game because the adrenaline has been flowing throughout it.
"Once they have time to come back down and reflect, they’ll know themselves they’ve played well.
"There have been times this season we’ve found a way to get a result when we’ve not played well, there have been other occasions where we’ve played well and won, and then there are occasions like this where you play well against a good side and don’t get what you deserve from the game.”
One positive Sunderland can undoubtedly take is the return of Chris Maguire, who upped his recovery from injury with a typically energetic display after being introduced in the second half.
He even could have snatched the game late on, but he failed to get his shot away after break into the Pompey box.
“I think he was anticipating a challenge," said Ross of the late chance.
"He could maybe have got a shot away, but he had a good influence in the latter stages of the game.
“I thought he took a little bit to get going, he’s been out a long time and only had limited time against Peterborough, so that’s understandable.
"Once that opening ten minutes got past, he started to have an influence because he’s a clever player and he picks up good areas.
"It was nice to have him back on for that length of time, and nice to see him start to produce that level of performance in the latter part he was on the pitch.”