In the wake of Sunderland's first league defeat since September, Jack Ross explained why Josh Maja didn't get on field as we pursued a route back into the game. "He was unwell. "To be honest, he wouldn’t have started, the way we set up was what we worked on and in fairness it worked. He would have always come on, regardless how the game was going but he wasn’t feeling great this morning. We didn’t have any other option to include him on the bench as we lost Adam Matthews as well. We were a little bit hamstrung in that respect. Being unwell in these conditions, we were looking after him. Hopefully he will be okay for Boxing Day."
On Tom Flannagan's injury, the gaffer added: "He was still a bit off at the end of last week but we have another couple of days before the Boxing Day game. We will have to see when we return home. Adam hurt his calf towards the end of training Thursday, he travelled as we hoped he would settle down but it wasn’t right. It wasn’t ideal as prep had been based on him playing but that’s how it goes sometimes."
Ross did not feel Glenn Loovens' tackle warranted a sending off and will seek clarity on the new double jeopardy laws before deciding whether or not to appeal the decision. "The flow of the whole game changed with the red card decision, we were good prior to that. We were very controlled first half, and had a group in there at halftime who believed they would replicate that second half and go on to win the game. You are playing against a team who are top of the table and in their own stadium, going down to ten men will have an impact. I get the benefit of watching incidents again, the red card I would argue isn’t a red, under the new guidelines, there is a genuine attempt to win the ball but there was no attempt to bring him down, it is a coming together. It is a penalty kick. The incident first half, have we been punished for similar incidents? Yes we have, simple as that. I don’t know, I need to clarify the wording of the rules, that can determine how it is looked as well. I know the rules have changed to avoid that double jeopardy, to be honest at the time I couldn’t see clearly so thought he pulled him back. Watching it again, Hawkins does well to come across him, but the legs catch each other, my understanding is that it isn’t a red card. I don’t know the exact wording, that will have a bearing on whether we decide to appeal that or not."