Cup Craic/Pennas/Reidy

Jack Ross will treat our FA Cup first-round tie at Port Vale like a normal League One game. “I think it goes without saying the main priority is promotion and return to Championship, but it is a tournament that should retain its traditional values,” said Ross. “(Director) Charlie (Methven) has spoken about benefiting us financially, so there’s a whole load of reasons we want to progress. We want to continue the form we are in and it is an important game. The Checkatrade (Trophy) game is most awkward, midweek, closer in proximity to Sunday. Beyond that it is relatively straight forward, it is just like normal league fixtures. It falls on a weekend, so the rest period since Plymouth is there. In terms of needing rest, we have longer than a week after Plymouth (played last Saturday), it is just being treated like a league game.”

Meanwhile, Jack Ross has admitted that there’s no designated penalty taker at Sunderland after Aiden McGeady grabbed the ball off Lynden Gooch to score from the spot against Plymouth. "Everyone has their own approach, we're very thorough in our preparation to set pieces, James and John take on that responsibility," he said. "But with penalties, I've never allocated a taker and James will back me up on that. On the basis that should the person allocated be having a really poor game, they may have missed an open goal minutes before, you just don't know what frame of mind they're going to be in. My own personal opinion is that's what works best. On Saturday I genuinely didn't know Lynden wasn't taking it until right at the last minute, it was quite far away from me. He was a bit grumpy but Aiden scored so that helps," Ross added. "Next time we get one and they're both on the park, it'll be a race to see who gets to the ball first! As a manager, there's a good side to it in that you've got strong characters who have faith in their ability and so want to take a penalty. It's different if someone has missed three or four in a row, then you have to intervene but I'm happy that they've both take one this season and scored."

In other news, former SAFC manager, Peter Reid, reckons that the relationship between Stuart Donald and Jack Ross is key to our success: “Any football club that wants to move forward, it helps if you’ve got unity and stability at the top - and I think Sunderland have got that right now. I’ve always said the relationship between the manager and the chairman, or the owner, is the most important relationship there is at a football club. And I’ve seen enough evidence of that over the years - both as a player and a manager - that clubs, where the board and the manager are singing from the same hymn sheet, are that much stronger. That stability at the top is often reflected in the team and in the fans and when I look back to my time at Sunderland, like when we were winning promotion with 105 points or doing well in the Premier League, those were times when everyone was pulling in the same direction. I think Sunderland have struggled to have that togetherness at the top for quite a few years now and maybe the results of that have been seen in the team's form and the successive relegations. But it’s clear that that’s very different now and that can only be a good thing for Sunderland. It reminds me a lot of my first season at the club when money was too tight to mention and that’s one of the biggest tests of a manager. Jack is facing that right now and it will be a frustration for him as it was for me in my first full season but he’s just getting on with it and he’s really making the most of the resources he’s got. The problems he’s inherited and the fact that he doesn’t have much to spend, make what he’s done so far all the more impressive.”

To book travel with ALS click here