Here’s Jack Ross’ pre-Rochdale press conference…
Ross on the character of the group
"I think the players have shown throughout the course of the season that they have a strength of character and they have a resilience about them through difficult circumstances. Wednesday night was about that again. The environment they came in to play at couldn't have been different to Sunday so to respond in that manner and provide that kind of performance was terrific.”
Ross on the promotion race
"I have been quite consistent in saying that the only thing that concerns us is our own performance. The motivation to produce that kind of result and performance on Wednesday was simply to add three more points to our total. Psychologically for us, I think it was a significant game. We knew people would look at that fixture, how challenging it was and how close it was to Sunday's defeat and it was one where we could potentially lose some points. To come through it in that manner was very pleasing. The group is in a good place and I sensed very quickly after Sunday's game that, if anything, it strengthened the determination to bring success to the club this season.”
How the changes on Wednesday worked
"I suppose for every manager there is an element of risk when you make so many changes. But I was fairly confident in the lead up to the game, simply because I have watched them every day in training. We have had some closed-door games here and those players who haven't been involved recently, their attitude and approach has been outstanding. That has then enabled them to take the opportunity when it has come along and as a manager you cannot ask any more than that. It gives you a good problem moving forward but we know as a group that we will need every player going forward because of the fixture congestion.”
Ross on Charlie Wykes form
"I would take that performance level. Obviously, his job is to score goals and he will be judged a lot on that but when he plays like that, his contribution to the team and his performance is terrific. I am pleased for him because it has been a frustrating season for him for a number of reasons. But if you examine his recent contribution, even coming off the bench, he is having an impact in terms of us scoring goals. I am pleased that he could put that all together over the course of the 80 plus minutes he was on the pitch and it is encouraging for me because if we can have him in that form over the remaining games then it is a bonus for us."
Ross on his selection problems
"Yeah, but it has been like that since January. The squad became pretty big and we brought a lot of good players in who were desperate to play. We have had these decisions to make on a fairly regular basis and it will be the same for the remainder of the season. When you get to this stage and there is an opportunity for success then the whole group understands that it is about the team rather than individuals. They have bought into that ethos so they have never really had any problems in that respect."
His thoughts on the prospect of playing Rochdale
"There is a lot of parallels with Wednesday evening because of where the opposition find themselves and the ground we are going to. Wednesday was a bit different because we had been to that ground before but this is a new ground to visit and when you add in the fact they have appointed Brian (Barry-Murphy) as their new manager that changes the dynamics as well. The reality is that we are playing a team who has as much to play for as us at this stage of the season. We need to provide a very similar performance to the one we provided on Wednesday evening."
How competitive is League One?
"I have sensed over the course of the season that there hasn't been a great deal of difference in quality across the whole league. We have said it often enough that there is no team that have seemed weaker than anybody else so maybe that is reflected in the team at the moment. As the season goes on the teams who are in danger will lessen."
Ross on his fringe players playing well
"In the first instance, I am pleased for them. I probably manage with a conscience. I care about my players and try to build relationships with them so when they are not in the team, I understand that not only are they frustrated but it hurts them as well. It is my responsibility to make sure I pick them up and keep them positive. First and foremost, it is about them. For them to get that feeling of being back on the pitch and playing well is terrific because that is what they thrive on. That is why they are professionals. Thereafter it is encouraging that the hard work we have put in behind the scenes as a staff to make sure these players continue to feel a part of what you are doing, continue to feel like they are being treated properly, and believe they will get an opportunity and we will give them a fair run at things. That is how we have tried to manage it and I would hope if you spoke to them, they would feel the same way."
Ross on the post Wembley dressing room atmosphere
“The initial feeling in the dressing room was really sore. There are no magic words for me to say at that time. For me, as a manager, I felt the disappointment more acutely on the Monday. The Sunday was more about me dealing with players and dealing with press. By the time Monday came for the players, the soreness hadn't disappeared, but they had spent time together on the Sunday evening and it was fairly obvious they were there. They have had a real determination all season to win promotion and they have suffered real disappointment and they don’t want that again. They want to have the opposite feeling."
Finally, what is the injury situation like?
“The only one that comes back into the squad is George Honeyman, who has completed his suspension. Reece James and Lee Cattermole miss out, along with Adam Matthews, Chris Maguire and Duncan Watmore. We have a couple of other concerns, Aiden McGeady being one of them. We’ll look at that over the course of the day."