Ross Post Belenenses

Sunderland suffered a 1-0 defeat against Belenenses in Albufeira on Saturday night, but on the plus side Jack Ross was delighted to see Max Power back in the fold. He explained: “Max is two or three weeks ahead of schedule,” said Ross. “He was keen to play. He has worked hard and he really wanted to be involved. I’m pleased to see him back again. Power and McGeady have both been working hard on rehab and have joined in parts of what we have done while we have been in Portugal, and they both trained hard this morning. Aiden’s injury is slightly different and given the relationship I have with him; I know that if he felt absolutely right then he would have been on the pitch tonight. All being well, when we return, he might be involved in some way in the Heerenveen game next weekend. Overall, I gauge pre-season on improvement and conditioning levels and I think you could see we were better on both counts this evening. From South Shields to Thursday’s game against Benfica B and then to now we have got better with each game. Yes, we would like to be more ruthless with the opportunities we created and there were a couple of things we need to look at with the goal we conceded, but there was still that improvement there against a better calibre of opposition. There were a lot of good things about this game. I know people always say that managers tend to say pre-season results matter when they win, and don’t matter when they lose, but for me it is always more important that we are improving and building towards the first game of the season against Oxford.”

Duncan Watmore also featured: “It was good to get Duncan out there for an hour looking strong and providing that threat,” said Ross. “We said to Duncan tonight to get through 45 minutes and then see how he was, and he still looked strong after 65 minutes and you could see what he gives us in forward areas.”

Sunderland have failed to score in the two Portuguese games, a fact that was not lost on the manager. He said: “There were times last season where we felt that if we had been more ruthless we could have turned games around. The one thing I would say in defence of the group is that a lot of the work we have done on that system has been building it up towards that final third and the work we did tonight on that was brilliant, even on things we had only worked on this morning. It’s just then the next part we have to get right and that’s what we will work on now. The good thing is that we have got a fortnight before the first game so there is still the time to do that.”

Ross also gave a transfer update: “It’s exactly the same as before. I am working on one or two things with Tony [Coton] at the moment, subject to me being able to juggle a few things around. I’ve been honest and frank about the situation, and it is my job as the manager to get the best out of what I have got. At the moment I am really pleased with the players and what they did tonight. Loans would be an option and that is something we are exploring, but it will depend how that fits with the squad and what contribution they can make. If we can bring in one or two who can improve us then we will, because the three who have come in so far have strengthened us as a squad.”