Despite beating Blackpool, Sunderland will be without both George Honeyman and Lee Cattermole for Saturday’s trip to Charlton and the visit of Luton Town. Honeyman is still injured and Cattermole is suspended. Jack Ross said: “It’s a blow because we’re a bit stretched for numbers and he’s been influential this season. You saw that from our substitutes’ bench – we had a 17-year-old and an 18-year-old on the bench because that was all the fit players we had. “It’s part of his game. If I’m being entirely cynical, then his yellow card was probably one that myself and James [Fowler] would have taken in our careers because they were going on the counter-attack. It’s just the nature of playing in his position and being the type of player he is. It comes with the territory. I think earlier in the season I would have had complaints about some of the bookings he picked up because he was an easy one to caution, but it’s just an accumulation of bookings and we’ll deal with it. Honeyman won’t be fit for Charlton, probably not for Luton as well. In that period that Lee is out we won’t have George either, it is tough for us but we have coped this season admirably well when we have had important players out for various reasons, we will do the same again.”
Jack Ross also spoke about Josh Maja, who scored the goal that earned us the points (again) and has a deadline of this Friday to complete his ongoing contract talks: “I know we’ve said that a final offer has been made, and there’s a time period for whether or not he accepts it, but even if that lapses, nothing really changes from my perspective as a manager. I’ve got a really strong relationship with him as a player, and as long as he remains here and keeps playing like that, I’ll keep selecting him and playing him. We can’t just say we just concentrate on that, because naturally there are other factors going on, but for me as manager and him as a player, all we can do is affect what happens out there on the pitch. It wasn’t just his goal today – I think his all-round play in the last three games has been really good. He’s a clever boy. He takes on a lot of the things you ask him to do, and he’s getting better and better at them. He’s an outstanding finisher, as we’ve seen time after time this season.”
In terms of players incoming Ross added: “I’m hopeful we’ll manage to get a defensive player in,” he said. “All being well, I’d hope that will be concluded post the Charlton game. There’s nothing to say that won’t happen, but like everything, it won’t be done until it’s all registered and put through. That would help us because you could see today that we’re pretty stretched squad wise. If you include the bench, that was all we had, and that includes Bali (Mumba) and (Benji) Kimpioka. It would be nice to get a bit of reinforcement in.”
The Sunderland manager also hailed our support of 8,000, who, once again, outnumbered the home supporters. Blackpool had just 2000 fans at the game! “It is remarkable,” said Ross. “It is a privilege to manage this club. Whatever I do in my management career, very seldom, if at all, will I have what I have here. I have achieved nothing as a manager at Sunderland, so all it does is strengthen your resolve to bring success to the club. It is an outstanding fanbase, and I stressed to the players they should enjoy the feeling of getting cheered off by 8,000 fans. It is worth the sacrifices, and our gratitude to those that travelled is consistent because it is a remarkable support.”
Blackpool Player Ratings
By Jacob Kirkbride
Had a pretty comfortable afternoon and did well commanding the penalty area on set pieces. His kicks found the head of Wyke most of the time which will be key in the games we have coming up.
Had effective link up play with McGeady on the left which contributed well to the attack but also did well to get back and defend when they were on the counter attack. Moves more freely when he’s on the ball compared to Oviedo who tries to do too much which is why he should be first choice left back this season.
Passed the ball so much better the other day and was more composed when he moved further up the field. Held onto it a little bit too long at times but that just shows that Ross must have told him to improve his game after the Shrewsbury performance.
Did superbly to clear Gnanduillet’s effort off the line in the second half and had a comfortable afternoon dealing with Feeney as well. Showed great leadership qualities on set pieces as well telling players where they should be which was our weakness against Shrewsbury.
Worked well with Power alongside him in the middle but panicked a lot at times when he had the ball which is something he needs to work on. However, you cannot fault the lads determination as he would put his heart and soul in chasing after the ball when he loses it.
His cross for Maja’s goal was absolute perfection and was nice to him not been not too greedy on the ball this time around. Also, was class at working his way into space and looking for those killer runs Maja makes to supply him the killer through ball.
Most improved man on the pitch who took part in the Shrewsbury game as down the right Blackpool simply couldn’t handle his strength at times. His crossing was so much better as well as he used strength to great effect against the full backs to find room to put a great ball in which some were very close finding Wyke and Maja on a few occasions.
Found a team mate with so much ease the other day and was great at bringing the ball under control when coming from a height. Getting him signed on a permanent transfer is great news as he’s really upped his performances since picking up his red card against Walsall.
Looked a bit tired and worn out from the busy Christmas schedule as he lost concentration in the first half an hour giving a silly foul away which gave him a yellow. For the rest of the 90 he played with fear because he couldn’t make another challenge to slow the game down but still worked hard in the role he loves playing in which is protecting the back four.
Maja 9/10 MOTM
The perfect all-round performance as his goal was a fantastic strikers finish. He also used his feet to great effect as well as his skill to get passed opponents and then making lovely passes to find his strike partner Charlie Wyke. All we need now is that new contract to be signed to put our minds at rest.
Having him back fit and playing is like a new signing as his physical presence will finish off teams quicker in the second half of the season. Still not quite fully fit yet but his confidence to win headers against Blackpool’s centre backs was good to see as well as using his feet to bring Josh Maja into play.
Did his job well in the few minutes that he had running up the pitch and trying to keep the ball in the corner. Let’s hope that he can up his game even more after the poor Shrewsbury performance.
Created a solid unit when he came on which really tightened up our midfield to see the game out. Still a very key player for us and confident he’ll have key parts to play as the season goes on.