Pre Barnsley Presser


Here’s Jack Ross’ full pre-Barnsley press conference…

Injury news: “Maguire remains out, and both George Honeyman and Tom Flanagan suffered concussions on Saturday, so regardless of any suspensions, they would have been out anyway. Duncan will have a scan this afternoon on the ankle and will miss tomorrow. Reece James has a groin injury too, so that’s four from the weekend’s squad and also Chris who was already out.”

Barnsley are still doing well without Kieffer Moore. “If you look statistically teams that have dominated or had the most winning runs or most goals, the reality is that three of the strongest teams in the EFL this season are in this league - ourselves, Barnsley and Luton. We’ve all had really good things to our games this season and the challenging thing for all of us is that we’re in the same league. They’re form has been good this season, consistent for a number of months and they deserve to be where they are in the league at the moment. It’s about us continuing to keep pace with that and hopefully overcoming it.”

Is it a must-win game? “Every game is a must-win game at Sunderland. That’s been my attitude since the day I took the job. I’ve never regarded any game as more or less important. When you manage or play for this club, every game is a must win. It’s just the reality of being at this club. Every game we approach in exactly the same way - and that’s with the aim to go and win.”

Need to improve from Saturday? “First of all, it will be a different game because they will approach the game in a different manner and will set up to win the game. A lot of times we’ve thrived in those type of games - the big games, with the big atmosphere against good teams. It will be different. We didn’t play well on Saturday. But we did play well in many of the games beforehand. I’ve said this beforehand, at Sunderland it seems very easy to dwell on the negatives and forget all the positives, whereas I’m a bit more balanced. Over the last five or six games we’ve played bad in one and well in the rest. That gives me comfort we’ll have more chance of playing to the higher levels on Tuesday than the levels we played to on Saturday.”

Is it easier to play a team like Barnsley than Wycombe (due to time wasting, bad tackling etc)? “I think each and every game this season has been difficult for different reasons. We’ve spoken previously about playing away and the atmosphere and how the home crowds have viewed the games against us. So that’s made each and every one difficult. I just think tomorrow night will have a different feel again because they’re a team that were also in the Championship last season, it’s a big stadium, good home support. We have good players who’ve proven they can play at a higher level than they currently are and they will want to prove that. They’ll thrive on that. It won’t be an easy game. They’re a team who have had a very good season and we’re respectful of that. But equally, we’re full of confidence in ourselves in dealing with that.”

Was there a Checkatrade hangover on Saturday? “No. I just don’t think we played well. There certainly wasn’t, from a physical or mental point of view, any impact on our performance, we just didn’t play very well. It’s sometimes difficult for some to comprehend, but sometimes that just happens. You’ve got to credit the opposition on Saturday too. They did what they do well and we couldn’t cope with it in the manner we should have done. There’s certainly no excuse from me or reasoning for it.”

You've had great away support this season. “It’s played a huge part. If you take Saturday as an example, we did well to get back into the game from that position and it helps when you have so many people in the ground willing you on to get something from the game. It comes with a responsibility to try and give those that travel something to go home happy about, but I think we’ve enjoyed it this season. The players have by and large responded to it in a terrific manner and they will just add to a brilliant occasion tomorrow. It always brings out the best in the home fans as well because they always respond to the numbers we travel in, but for me I’ve sensed among everyone an excitement about tomorrow. It’s two really good teams who’ve enjoyed good seasons to date and they go in knowing, while nothing will be determined by tomorrow night’s result, a positive result for either takes them a step closer to what they want to achieve.”

How big a morale boost would it be to win? “You get to this stage of the season and you can’t underestimate how much each win can mean. When it starts getting towards that end point you’re one step closer. Psychologically I’ve never felt the players have ever been different. I think they’ve always remained balanced but it’s more about the significance of winning games at this stage - regardless of opposition it’s about winning points that will bring us closer to reaching the target that we want to bring us success. And it’s significant because if you don’t get the result, the number of games to catch up on that total becomes less.”

On the 'brawl' at Wycombe. “I personally don’t think it’s that big a deal. I think personally we make a lot more of it than needs be. I watch quite a lot of Six Nations Rugby because I quite like it as a sport and I see a lot of fights or comings together a lot in that and it never creates as many headlines as this. If you actually watch the footage closely, there’s actually a lot of players actually trying to bring peace to the situation. However, when you put that many grown ups in close proximity and people get bumped around, then it will often look a lot worse than it is. In an ideal world there wouldn’t be any bodies coming together and there’d just be one person trying to keep the peace, but what happens is you get, for every person being aggressive, you get six trying to calm it down. But it doesn’t always look like that. It is what it is. That’s football and we don’t want to sanitise the sport. It’s meant to be emotive. As long as that stays within the realms of what’s deemed to acceptable then it’s ok.”

Hangover due to injuries on Tuesday? “We have less players available, but the players are in the same mood as they have been all season - positive and upbeat. Any other team goes on the run we have I think they get more praise than what we do. We’ve not been beat since December! But that doesn’t often get talked about. But the players understand that and just stick to the task at hand. They’re disappointed if they ever don’t play well, but if we win we don’t get too high with it. The injuries aren’t ideal because you’d like to have every player available for it, but it’s not something that Barnsley are not also dealing with Moore and Brown etc. It just happens at this stage of the season.”

A lot for both teams to be proud of this season? “Yeah. It’s the way the season has gone that this is second vs third not top vs second. I said it earlier and the three teams at the top would be appearing in most positive stats lists this season. For three teams in one league to have such strong records is unusual and it’s what’s kept it so competitive at that end of the table. The aim for Barnsley tomorrow will be to try and give themselves a little bit of a cushion, whereas the incentive for us is to make sure that three-way fight continues, while not, of course, ruling out teams below us too.”

In other news, George Honeyman will be available for Checkatrade Trophy final. Despite an unsuccessful appeal following his red card at Wycombe, for which he will now serve a three-match ban, the suspension will not include the Checkatrade Trophy final and will include league games only. Honeyman will miss Barnsley, Walsall and Accrington Stanley.


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