It seems that Sunderland need to balance the books by shipping players out before they can strengthen. Hopefully those players won’t be Jon McLaughlin and Aidan McGeady.
"In terms of where we are squad wise, with numbers we’re a lot healthier than we were this time last season," said Ross. "We have enough numbers in the group to satisfy a lot of positions. However, as always, we're always looking to improve the quality. It's not easy because we've got good players at the club already, but we've worked hard to identify those that have the quality and fit within the structure of the club now. The reality at the moment is that we're in a position where in order to bring ones in, we need to move ones on. That's not always easy to do, so I'm satisfied with what we've got at the moment but looking to improve if the right player not just becomes available but fits the structure of the club. We reflected on last season and why we fell short in losing the play-off final and missing out on promotion, and one of the factors was that we didn't keep enough clean sheets. That's as a whole team and as a whole group, and there's different factors for that, not just individual performances. We know that we have to defend better as a team this season, whether that's strengthening the personnel or changing the way we play. In the summer we spent a lot of time looking at the attributes that we were maybe missing in the squad as well. So as much as strengthening positions, Conor McLaughlin being an obvious one because we lost Adam Matthews, we've looked at increasing the strength and pace we had in our squad. We've got some good footballers but those two attributes are necessary I think not just in League One but throughout modern football. We've tried to do that, we're still trying to do that and it's a key factor in what we do in the coming weeks until the end of August as well."
In other news, despite interest from Aberdeen, it looks like Dylan McGeouch may be staying at Sunderland after all. Ross said: "[Dylan] and I had dialogue through the course of the season and dialogue again through the close season period. I didn’t want to lose him. I still feel as if he’s got something to offer here but equally you need that to work on both sides. But as a player he wants to try and prove he can be a success here, so it’s a pretty straightforward one then. At the moment that’s how the situation is, I didn’t want him to leave and he wants to prove himself here."
Ross also spoke about Jon McLaughlin and Aiden McGeady’s contract situation. Both players are after a new deal after impressing last season, which has also alerted other clubs of their situation. “From a football point of view, I've no interest in Jon not being at the club,” Ross said. “Those that make the decisions beyond that may have a different view if it was something [significant] but I think they understand the importance of him, the importance of him last year and the importance of having him at the club last season. I've said before about him being high quality, low maintenance. There's not many like that. Jon had a little bit more time off due to his international commitments but was back in today. He's contracted for another year, ideally, we'd like to keep him for longer than that and I think that process is underway. We'll just see how that pans out but for me, I don't have any fears that he won't be our goalkeeper this season. Football can change quickly but at the moment I don't. I'm more than confident he'll remain here.”
On McGeady, Ross added: “I think they have [opened talks],” Ross said. “But he's like Jon in that he enjoys being at the club, I don't think there's any desire not to be here, they want to try and get us promoted.”