The Odd Couple

Jack Ross has been chatting about the possibility of Didier Ndong and Papy Djilobodji returning to work! “They may return and if they do we’ll deal with them accordingly when they come in,” Ross explained. “I haven’t had any interest in them because they’ve never turned up and haven’t been part of what I’ve tried to build here. I don’t ever envisage them being part of that. However, that situation becomes more complicated if they come back in and it probably starts to extend beyond my remit as a manager but we’ll deal with that as and when. There’s still several overseas windows at the moment that allows the to ... I wouldn’t say escape, that’s not the right word, but to find a resolution.”

If the two do decide to grow a pair, honour their contracts and play some football, then Ross doesn’t think their return would negatively affect the spirit of the team. “I don’t think they would disrupt what’s in there now, ” said Ross. “I think what’s in there now is strong enough in its numbers and the mood of the group that I wouldn’t be concerned that way. It’s just peculiar circumstances to get your head around. I’d probably have to separate myself because I’ve been a footballer, then a manager, and I genuinely love the game. That bothers me to an extent. Then I have to look at my role here and how I deal with it in terms of having those problems because they could come back. I would never consider it to be an issue. We’re strong enough as a group to not be derailed.”

Elsewhere, Sunderland AFC have appointed Neil Fox as a new director. Fox is Stewart Donald’s long-term business partner. Neil and Tony join existing directors Stewart Donald (chairman), Juan Sartori, Charlie Methven and Angela Lowes (finance).

In other news goal-scoring debutant Charlie Wyke reckons there’s more to come from him as he shakes off the effects of his recent knee injury. The striker, doing what all strikers do, has also insisted it was his goal at the weekend and no one was going to deny him that. “It is obviously a good debut for me I could’ve played better but it was my first game in three or four months,” said Wyke.“There was a bit of rustiness but it’s good to get that out of the way and thankfully it is a good start for me. It is definitely my goal, there have been a few questions in the changing room but Goochie has stuck up for me and said it was mine. I got a faint touch and I was just happy to see it go in. You get those kinds of games in this league. It’s not always pretty but we got a point, we battled away, it wasn’t the best performance but it’s another point on the board and it continues this unbeaten start to the season. Everyone at the club is brilliant, the lads in the changing room are a brilliant set of lads, I’ve been made to feel so welcome, so I feel like I’ve fitted in straight away and that’s showed on Saturday on the pitch.”

Wyke had endured a frustrating stop-start to his career after being released by Boro with the forward having to battle his way up the leagues before finally getting his dream move to Sunderland (probably). “Obviously I got released from Middlesbrough which was frustrating, I didn’t think there was a future for me in football at the time,” explained Wyle. “I went away, worked hard and started to work my way up the leagues. This is obviously a huge club and hopefully we can get this club doing the same again, to get it back where it should be. I went to Kettering when I was 18 and that was a real eye-opener. I came back and the next thing I went to Hartlepool, that was the same because we were struggling in League One and we were relegated. I think when you do stuff like that it does help you. Hopefully there are no more relegations on the cards and I just want to focus on here and push on. I have worked hard to get to a ground I can call home like this since those early days. There are times when I wondered if I would really make it as a professional footballer, when I was released, then Hartlepool, I didn’t see myself really being able to get to play at stadiums like this. Now I am here, scoring, and hopefully I will keep my place and keep scoring.”

Finally Jack Ross was over the moon with the contribution of Wyke even though the striker was introduced a lot earlier than he would have liked. “He came on a lot sooner than planned and we expected,” Ross said.“Our hand was forced a little bit in terms of the circumstances of the game.We thought playing Charlie as a focal point and playing Josh and Lynden in half and half positions. We had two choices at half time, we could either have gone really defensive and accepted where we were or try to be bold. I am really pleased for him because it has been a frustrating period for him. Credit to his conditioning levels throughout his injury period that he was able to come back and produce that type of performance for 45 minutes – it was an ideal start for him.”

Ross then went on to admit his frustrations in not being able to bolster his forward line before the close of the loan window last Friday, but he’s happy with the players he now has at his disposal. “If I was being really greedy I would have liked one more in the forward area but I knew the circumstances of what we’ve taken on here was always going to inhibit us towards the end of this window. I’d made peace with that because I knew the circumstances that we needed a resolution to a couple of players’ problems that I’ve inherited as the manager and everyone’s inherited at the club but there wasn’t. That obviously restricted us but I’ve said before about me making the best of what I have at whatever club I’m at. That’s how I view it every single week. I’ve got good players here – players I like and trust and players I think I can make better. We’re unbeaten so it’s a decent start in that sense.”