Jack Ross is keen to use pre season to see how the players react to playing three at the back. He explained: "We're not doing it to say that it's set in stone that's how we're going to play. As I said a couple of weeks ago, I want to have another option to play either at the start of games or during games. The truth is the majority of the squad are familiar with a back four because we did that most of last season, so there's a bit of bedding in and there's bits in both halves that we could do better, and bits that we did well. Keeping a clean sheet is pleasing and it's then just about getting everything to work together higher up the pitch. In saying that, we still created chances. From where we are, and we're still early in doing, even Jordan Willis only had a short time to work on it, I think we're satisfied from what we've seen so far from it. At this stage of pre-season it's about readying yourself physically and tactically for the start of the season. What we got tonight, because of the opposition, you get an energy and enthusiasm from them, so it wasn't like the game ever really dipped which meant we had to keep a certain level of intensity. So in terms of serving a purpose I think it was good for us."
Ross also praised Ruben Sammut’s performance against Benfica B. The former Chelsea youngster joined the U23 squad in the summer following a loan spell. “Ruben was recruited as part of the U23 squad as a number of the new players have been,” Ross said. “But we know that the age he’s at, the experience he’s had, he really needs to either push with us or go out on loan because he’s at the latter part of his U23 years. What he’s done is every time he’s trained with me in the pre-season period, which has been intermittently, he’s made an impression every time he’s been on the pitch. He’s a really, really fit boy, incredibly fit. When young players come over you want them to make an impression and he’s done that, he had a really good impact on the game. I’m pleased with him, you often get someone who makes an impact early and he’s done that today.”
In other news, Sunderland’s Head of Recruitment Tony Coton has attended a speed-dating style event at Stamford Bridge which helps clubs buy and sell players! He didn’t pull, but here’s what he had to say! "If you can progress talks with the two clubs then you’re in a stronger position than an agent trying to broker deals, getting in this, getting that. Here I will hear it from the horse’s mouth now,” he continued, “exactly how much the player’s earning at that club and I can say, ‘Yes we can go to that,’ or ‘No we can’t go to that,’ without the agent getting involved because invariably the agent will inflate what he’s on to try and increase his wages and for a loan I don’t think that’s right.”