Jack Ross is hoping that the Josh Maja and Lynden Gooch contract talks will be finalised soon, especially since he’s asked about it at every press conference! "We're hoping - that's probably the best way to describe it. I believe that both players want to stay at the club. They're still young enough in their careers to understand that this is a great place to be. There's always external factors that come in to play and these are the things that slow down the process at times. But I would be hopeful that they will both remain at the club, and if they are remaining then we should know sooner rather than later."
Meanwhile, ahead of the January transfer window, Ross isn’t expecting too many incoming players. "I don't envisage, or want to do, too much. If we can strengthen in one, possibly two areas, we'll do that. I'm conscious that we did a lot of work in the summer and rebuilt the squad. It's a good squad, not just in terms of their ability but their character, mix and how they've come together and I don't want to disrupt that. If we can strengthen a little bit we'll do that, but it's also a notoriously difficult month to get right. It's a lot more challenging, this window, than a summer window but we're in a good position because we don't need to do anything through panic. Because of where we find ourselves we can do things quite sensibly and that will be the case. I don't think we'll be busy, but that's not to say we won't do anything."
Charlie Methven has, once again, been gushing in his praise for us fans! Obvs… Methven said: "“The passionate support is something that nothing can prepare you for. Before we went up there every man and his dog in football told us: ‘you’re going into a goldfish bowl; North East football, you won’t know what’s hit you’. And you think yeah, yeah. But until it’s hit you, it’s true that you really can’t prepare for what it is that hits you. I remember the first day we were up there was the last game of last season against Wolves at home. Sunderland had just been relegated and Wolves promoted, but there was still 30-odd thousand people in the stadium. Stewart just looked around and said: ‘[Exhaling] This is big, isn’t it?’ Of course, he didn’t just mean the stadium, he meant the responsibility. Even though they’d been relegated the passion of the crowd was still absolutely electric. It’s a city that identifies absolutely with its football club. We’ve sold over 40,000 tickets in advance of the Bradford game and we’re still five or six days out. The highest average attendance record at this level is Man City with 28,000 and we’re averaging over 30,000 this season. You know, this is a club that for the last five years has barely won a game, so Stewart and I are physically humbled by the passion and intensity and faith that the fans have in this football club. It is quite tear-jerking at times and we just think crickey this is astonishing.”
Finally, Charlie Wyke is still on target for a Boxing Day return, but first he’s going to have a run out with the U23s. Jack Ross explained: “He’ll play in a bounce game with the U23s on Friday. He won’t travel with us [to Portsmouth]. He’s been training again all week with us. If he comes through that unscathed he’ll be back in with us for the matchday squads which is brilliant. He looks really good, physically he looks a lot better than we brought him back the first time which I’m pleased about. Because of that, mentally he’s in a lot better place. Friday is about getting 90 minutes under his belt and once he’s got that then he’s good to go.”
Ross also thinks that Wyke’s return will add competition and help Josh Maja. “I think it’ll be a good thing for Josh because it’ll take some of the weight off his shoulders,” Ross said. “He’s had to carry that. Then there’s the potential for us to play in different ways to take some workload off him. That’s always been my plan, it’s just taken a while to get that competition.”