Jack Ross has been chatting about playing Bryan Oviedo in different positions and generally messing about with formations. "On the back of Wycombe, I took a bit of time to think," Ross said. "How we play, what we do, how other teams set up. I think we're good at what we do at times, but at times, so Gareth [Ainsworth] was at our game against Port Vale, we play in a certain manner so then they look to negate it. We're flexible anyway but we need to make sure we have options, whether it's how we start the game or how we change things during the game. I watched quite a lot of stuff with Lynden and Bryan, particularly when he first came to England with Everton. We had some conversations and did some work in training on Thursday," he added. "I had that filmed because I wanted to see how it looked and I was comfortable with it, I didn't think it was a gamble. I knew he could play there, it was just whether it came together, and it did. In terms of it being horses for courses, I think this league is like that. The opposition are so difficult to predict at times. It's quite challenging actually. Walsall was good because the team was the same as the week before, it comes through and you think 'OK, I know what they're doing.' That doesn't happen very often.”
Chances are Oviedo will leave in the next window, but Ross still thinks he has a role to play: “I still see him as competing for that left-back position," he added. "But I think that rather than seeing him then as not an option for you at any point because he's a left-back, I wanted to come away from that. It's not making him into something he's not because as I mentioned, he did it a lot for Everton. What he gives going forward from full-back has arguably been his strength as well. I'm sure he will play him higher up again, he's undoubtedly got the capabilities to do it. We looked bang at it, in the early stages against Walsall, the balance of the team was good, the understanding of what we wanted them to do was good," he said. "We made a lot of forward runs and that had been one of my main criticisms after the Wycombe game. We looked well balanced and had that quality in the final third. You always try and bear in mind the dimensions of where you're playing, because our Stadium is one of the biggest. I was happy in that opening period.”
Ross has also been praising his players ahead of Barnsley’s visit this evening. “They have been resilient all season. I speak openly about the challenges we face each and every week and it has been new to a lot of the players. In fact, it has been new to all the players in our team because of how we are viewed in this league. Then when you look at the intensity of every game at 11v11, and then when you take into the account the Lads have shown it not just once, but four times, it is a real testament to the spirit in this group. They are a close group and a good group. They trust each other and hopefully they trust me as well. I have had to make changes over the season and sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. Players can think they won’t work but they’ve always tried to work with them whenever we’ve carried them out. Take Saturday out of it, though. That was nothing to do with me, that was down to their own heart and desire not to lose the game.”
Duncan Watmore managed 60 minutes for the U23s last night and looked decent, although he did manage to miss a penalty! Sunderland U23s: Johnstone, Hunter, Young, Mumba, Taylor, Bainbridge, Smart (Diamond, 60), Hackett, Watmore (Nelson, 60), Neil, Kimpioka. He had this to say afterwards: "That is a psychological hurdle," Watmore admitted. "I'd be lying if I said it's not. I've done it once and it is a horrible feeling to have 12 months out of the game. Being injured is so much harder than being fit in terms of the work you put in and psychologically as well. I've experienced that and the last thing I want is for that to happen again. At the same time, I try not to think about it. I try to be as positive as possible because I have done everything I can and I am in a good frame of mind - I don't worry about it happening again or anything like that. I think, second time around, I have to be careful and look after myself. The way I play, I find it hard to hold back - I want to get out there, I want to take people on, and I want to run, so people are going to want to tackle me and I am going to take heavy challenges. I have to try and play my normal game and forget about the past because I have done everything I can in terms of rehab sessions, I've had the best physio, the best surgeon, the best sports scientist - I've had everything to get me back here. Now I have to get on with it and get back in the game. Physically, I felt good in the game. I've done so many rehab sessions now that I feel physically fine, but obviously playing games is a different matter. In terms of the knee and everything, I felt really confident and in a good place. In a strange way the strong challenges were a positive. There were three or four lunges in at me and I was wiped out a couple of times, and that is something you can't really recreate in training, it comes in the intensity of games. The way I play, it's going to happen, so it is something I have to get used to and there was no harm in me getting through that. I feel like I haven't lost any pace, I felt sharp, strong, and I've done loads of work with the guys. I was disappointed to miss the penalty, of course, and in the second half our performance wasn't so good and we ended up losing the game. The gaffer has been fantastic with me, as have all the coaches," he said. "They have been so patient and they have said they have a duty of care to me and they want to make sure I am 100 percent before I come back because I am a young guy and hopefully I have long career ahead of me. The fact that he is like that and is looking after my interests, being patient and not forcing me back, is brilliant and I am really grateful for that. It is all about getting the balance right because I am so excited and I want to be back playing in the first team right now but I have to keep holding myself back and holding myself back because the more patient I am, the better it will be for me and for the team in the long run. I think I can make an impact in this team but at the same time the lads in the team are doing a great job, and all I want is the team to be winning games. If the team is winning and that means I can't get in, so be it! But I will definitely be ready, when required, to try and make an impact. As for the next step, it will depend on how I react after last night's game, and then we will formulate a plan."
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