OK folks, here's Jack Ross' Accrington Stanley presser in full...
After drawing on Tuesday is there more pressure to beat Accrington?
“No. I’ve given this answer consistently. The pressure on us each game has been there since the beginning of the season. I don’t think it increases or decreases depending on the previous result or form, it’s just ever-present when involved at Sunderland. It’s then embracing it and ensure you maintain a desire to always get a positive result. I’ve always worked on the basis that the only thing we can affect is our own results. Our individual players can only affect their own performance. So if you then affect it all positively it’s good. When you’re in a league of 24 teams you can only really affect your own results so I’ve never really got caught up in what other teams are doing. It’s very obvious to say we need to turn more draws into wins to ensure we keep pace with them, but there’s certainly enough ability to do that, and certainly enough good results across the season to suggest that could be the case.”
Will you make changes from Tuesday’s line up?
“It’s an unusual week to fit three fixtures in -Saturday, Tuesday, Friday. Naturally, you will have one or two fitness concerns which will have an influence on the decision making as well. The group is as big as it has been all season, it’s healthy, so that’s a big bonus. It strengthens the competition for places. But my challenge all the time is to find the right combination that produce a positive result and as always as a manager your success is judged by the end result. For me, Tuesday was pleasing because of the number of chances we created, and particularly the time we spent in the final third and in and around Blackpool’s box. We couldn’t have done too much more in that sense, it’s just about being about more ruthless and taking those chances when they come along. There was a lot to be much more encouraged about. We’d been collectively frustrated in recent weeks that we hadn’t played fluently and we hadn’t created an awful lot. There was a difference in that on Tuesday night and it’s about carrying that into Friday evening. I’ve always said each manager has a unique set of challenges at their own clubs. We speak a lot about the unique challenges we face here and Terry and his staff face well-documented ones off the pitch there. It’s testament to them that they’ve had the season they have. It’s a team on the outskirts of the play-offs and hadn’t lost since we beat them on New Year’s Day. But as is often the case, that gets thrown out the window and we’re judged solely on that one result. I’ve said all along that’s fine, it goes with the territory, but sometimes there does need to be some balance. It wasn’t just the result - of course we wanted to win - but it was the manner of the performance. With the exception of the 15 minutes between the goal and half time we dominated the game and played the majority of it in their half.”
Winning on Friday will take us nearer the top two…
“Yeah there’s a very obvious psychological advantage to us winning on Friday. You can then enjoy your Saturday afternoon watching other results coming in knowing you’ve put yourself in a position where you’ve done your part. It’s up to us to make sure come Saturday we’re in that position.”
Will Duncan Watmore feature on Friday?
“Duncan won’t be involved Friday night. It’s a blow because his performance on Tuesday was very positive. But the reality we’re faced with is that it’s not possible for him to play two games in such quick succession. That won’t be the case for him indefinitely, it’s just the case we’re faced with as he continues to recover from two ACL injuries. The recovery time in between games has to be longer. All being well he will be back involved again for us on Tuesday evening against Gillingham. We have, I believe, improved the quality within the group and also, as you mentioned, the number of options available to us. It’s just about those players then taking their chance when the opportunity comes. Duncan was a good example of someone I don’t think has started since Portsmouth and therefore his performance was reflective of someone wanting to make an impression. That’s all you can ask for and all you can ask for is that whoever comes in tomorrow night with the changes we’ll have to make, they will take their chance too.”
Do you and the players feel more pressure at home games?
“I think everyone is aware of that and again, it comes with the territory of playing for a big club like Sunderland and having big expectations. You can go and play for a different club that doesn’t have such big expectations and then you don’t have to deal with it, but equally, you don’t get the same rewards that come when things are going well. For example when we score, when we’re winning, that support that comes behind us supersede the other side of it. You’ve got to be broad-shouldered to deal with it - managers, staff, players. That’s not a criticism of the supporters, it’s just the reality. They’re desperate for us to do well and sometimes that thirst for success can be displayed in a frustrated manner. That’s just life. We saw that on Tuesday. A lot of the younger players didn’t react well to it and probably hadn’t seen anything like that before and so half time came at a good time for us. But then the pleasing thing for me was that in the second half the players took that on and said they were going to broad-shouldered and deal with the expectation of turning the game around. They didn’t manage to fully, but they did just about everything they could to do so. Our performances and results are the only thing I can affect and the only thing I can control is our preparations - the work we do, the unseen work we do, so that the players are ready to go on match day. Everything that happens on the pitch I can affect to a certain degree, but anything after that I can’t do anything about. I can influence it, but ultimately there’s no point getting to worked up about it because I can’t do anything about it. I’ve learned to work in that way because then your focus and energy remains in the areas you can control and affect. And those are the things that will ultimately determine if you’re good or bad at what you do.”
Are you happy looking back on Tuesday?
“I was really pleased. A lot of people will draw an opinion for whatever reason and a lot of people just look at the end result. There’s nothing wrong with that because ultimately it’s a results driven business that we operate in. But, we’ve had similar results lately and felt very differently about them. On Tuesday it was frustration because we didn’t capitalise on the performance, but a lot of what we did was so much better in the forward areas. That was hopefully as a result of the work that we’ve been continuing to do because you don’t always get instant results. The challenge is to do it again on Friday. It’s no good just doing it once in three or four games, we’ve got to make sure it becomes the norm for us again. If we do play in that attacking manner then I do believe we’ll win more games than we won’t. You could see with our intensity that it was difficult at times for Blackpool to get out.”
Anything new on the injury front?
“We’ve got a couple of minor issues we’ll have to asses over the course of today and tomorrow morning. That’s just natural having the games so close together and we’ll have to make a decision on them. But there’s nothing of any significance.”