Jack Ross reckons that communication with all staff has been a key factor in his time, so far, at SAFC: “I think that, at the previous jobs I’ve gone into, the initial ones were material changes I could implement to the environment. Whereas coming in here, materially there’s not a lot you can do because it’s so good. But there were probably changes on the human side that we could correct, in terms of how we communicate with people around the club. And that’s throughout the whole club. Primarily at the Academy of Light for me because that’s where I spend the bulk of my time, but that’s something we’ve worked hard at. Then naturally, from the playing side, how we get across our ideas of how we work in a relatively short period of time. The level of support I’ve had from all around the club has been outstanding. People that genuinely want this club to do well and have responded very well to how my staff and I go about our work. I had a brief meeting with the staff before the Charlton game – and that included all the staff, from cleaning staff to ground staff to kitchen staff and so on. I wanted to thank them for that support and that’s something which has been hugely encouraging to me. It’s important to recognise that as well because, if we are going to be successful this season, they will play as an important part as anybody on my side or the playing side.”
Ross also believes that if Bryan Oviedo and Lee Cattermole leave, he’d need replacements for them. “I think we would need to strengthen a little bit again just to give us that depth. I think Reece (James)’s injury probably meant Bryan was forced into action a bit quicker than he would have been coming back from the World Cup but he’s responded to that well. Overall, in terms of the numbers of the squad, we’re not running a massive squad although we do have reasonable depth across the positions. But I do think if they were to leave we would need people in. That’s always been a challenge for me because I’ve understood their positions and it would have been better if these things had happened earlier rather than later because it gives you more time to respond. It’s been a little bit of the unknown for me but other managers face the same issues.”
In terms of Djilobodji and Ndong, Ross added: “It’s as it was. They’re not here, so they’re not being remunerated in that sense. But they remain players at the club. For very obvious reasons we would all like a solution to that by the end of the month. For the club, it would be nice to put an end to that, and I know there are people at the club who have worked tremendously hard on that.”
The squad will be based in the south of England between the Gillingham and Wimbledon games, but Adam Matthews, Dylan McGeouch and Donald Love will travel in the hope of being involved, but Charlie Wyke will stay at the AOL. Ross said: “Wyke’s getting ever closer. He’ll stay when we travel, along with Tom Flanagan, Duncan (Watmore) and Aiden (McGeady). We’re hoping he’ll be able to join in next week. He’s ahead of schedule which is a bonus. The (September 1) Oxford game might come too quickly, but there’s a chance he could be involved around that time. We’ve been able to knock off fixtures and win games without him so that’s been a bonus, but it’ll obviously be good to have him available.”
In other news, we’ve been linked with loan moves for Celtic midfielder Ryan Christie and Fulham forward Ross McCormack.
Finally, if you are travelling on ALS coaches to Gillingham, can you get down to the SOL for 11.15? We are going to try and leave early to avoid the traffic and get more pre-match pub time...