Shrewsbury Update

Jack Ross has been previewing the Shrewsbury game and is keen to get another three points on the board to keep the promotion push going. Ross said: “I’ve mentioned about the different challenges we face and you can see how each team comes here and responds to the surroundings and atmosphere. In essence at times, it is a free hit for some of them as there is no expectation upon them, that is something we have had to face this season. We have had to deal with that and we are getting better at it. We have a good home record in the league and that is something we want to continue on Saturday. It was huge to send the fans home happy [on Boxing Day]. I was aware and kept fully up to date in terms of the numbers, I understood the responsibility on us to produce a positive result. We had to make sure we didn’t fall flat in front of a big crowd and we did that, the performance was good for the most part. It will be interesting to see (what crowd we pull against Shrewsbury) but I would never expect people just to turn up as I understand the financial commitment involved in it, the whole club helped some with the Gift of Football tickets and I’m sure there will be some who made the commitment to come that can’t make it every single week. I was grateful for their support, if we can get some of them back on Saturday because they enjoyed Boxing Day then brilliant. It is a busy period but the players are used to it. They will look after themselves physically and it is about making sure those that aren’t playing that much keep their fitness levels topped up. We have needed the group over the last couple of games and we will need the group Saturday and when we go to Blackpool on New Year too.”

In other news, Luke O’Nien is happy to be Sunderland’s Mr Versatile. The new Gary Owers, some might say. “I am loving it, I am really enjoying my football. I have loved it since the day I signed here. It took me a while to transition and get used to this club which is huge. They have given me this opportunity and I am really enjoying it. It was nice to get the clean sheet (on Boxing Day) because I am playing right back now so I am enjoying them. A few teams around us lost too so it was an important win on Wednesday. It was important to put on a good performance and if we can keep getting those kinds of crowds it would be incredible. Let’s get everyone back to the match on Saturday and pick up another three points.”

On the injury front, George Honeyman and Adam Matthews are the only doubts ahead of Saturday. “We will assess George and Adam, the turnaround time is quite quick,” he said. “There were no other obvious problems after the game so we will have at least the squad that we had available Boxing Day and in an ideal world one or two added to it. It is an ongoing ankle injury [for George], one he suffered against Barnsley. To his credit he has probably played when he shouldn’t have done because he is so determined to play. Him being ruled out Boxing Day was a sore one for him, you can imagine how he wanted to lead that team out. There were no other obvious problems after the game so we will have at least the squad that we had available Boxing Day and in an ideal world one or two added to it. But we need to look after him. It is one that is difficult to predict, we will see how he is.”