Despite fans being told that every player, except Ethan Robson, wanted to leave the club following relegation, Jack Ross reckons that now he’s had the opportunity to meet and speak to his players, that that isn’t the case at all. Ross said: “Apart from those ones who got a little bit extra time off [everyone is back]. I understood what Stewart was saying, speaking to players in here, I think there’s probably quite a few for who it is not quite black and white. There are some who it is and that’s fine, but there’s others, when you have conversations relayed through third parties, it’s not always as clear. Agents and representatives have their own job to do in terms of promoting players and where they might take them but speaking to players face to face has been good. There’s quite a few who like it and enjoy it, and some who have said to me, they’ve been part of the demise in the last couple of years, they don’t want to shy away from that and so are eager to try and take it back up. So, it’s important to stress that, and it’s up to me to try to foster that throughout the squad. If we’re in a position where we offload some who are desperate to go and have been on Premier League contracts, then it allows us to be comfortable in the sense of carrying some who are really good players. That’s determined by their hunger to stay and the ones I’ve worked with so far, I’ve not seen any suggestion that they’re not keen. “
In other news, Turkish Under 21 International, Alim Ozturk, reckons the situation at Sunderland is similar to when he first arrived at Hearts. He explained: “When I went to Hearts, they were in the same position as Sunderland are now, looking to get back on track after relegation. I got the same feelings when I went to Sunderland as I got when I first went into Hearts. There’s a new chairman and a new manager and I feel like the club is ready to turn the corner. Jack Ross is a sensible guy and wouldn’t have taken this job if he didn’t think the club was ready to move in the right direction. No club wants to get relegated but we have seen before where big clubs get relegated and they come back stronger. It can give you a chance to rebuild and do new things. I hope we can do the same at Sunderland as we did at Hearts. My period at Hearts was really good, and I wanted to experience British football again, playing in full stadiums with passionate supporters.”
Ozturk is certainly well travelled for such a young man, but is hoping to settle in Sunderland after recently marrying. “My initial intention was to stay in Turkey for next season but if I could find a good club, I was open to moving back to the UK. It was only a few weeks ago the opportunity first came up to go to Sunderland, and after we started talking, it was all done really quickly. It was a really easy decision. I had a good relationship with Jack at Hearts, so that was important but the main thing is that the club is amazing. I saw the training ground and everything – the stadium is amazing and the facilities are really good. I’m really happy. When I went to Hearts, I was only 21 so I was really young. It is really important for a footballer to play regularly and I feel the experience I have had of playing regularly at Hearts and also in Turkey has made me a much better player. I’ve played in Holland, Scotland and Turkey already, and every country has its own style, so I’ve learned lots of different ways of playing. I am used to the physicality of British football, which should help me, but in League One, they play more games than in Scotland. That is something I feel good about though. I’ve signed for two years so if everything goes well and we get promoted to the Championship, who knows what can happen after that.”
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