Blaise Bourgeois

Jack Ross: ‘It’s very important we go into this break with a win’

Third-placed Sunderland take on 19th-placed Walsall on Saturday ahead of their two-week break preceding their Checkatrade Trophy final at Wembley against Portsmouth at the end of the month.

Sunderland were supposed to face Fleetwood Town next week, however, with several Black Cats selected for international duty, the match was rescheduled for the final week of the season.

With Sunderland four points behind the automatic promotion places with 10 games to play and a match in hand, manager Jack Ross claims they must remain focused in order to achieve their goals.

“It’s never really made any difference to me, the stage of the season, the consequences,” Ross said.

“When you manage this club, there is an expectation that you win every week.

“When you carry that pressure all the time, the pressure never really changes.

“We know at this stage of the season in what we want to achieve, we need to make sure we’re winning games and that’s obviously the case for us starting on Saturday.

“Particularly when we go into a period where the way things have worked out for us, we don’t play a league game for a number of weeks.

“It’s very important we go into this break with a win.”

Sunderland’s biggest challenge won’t be their opponents, but fixture congestion.

The Black Cats have a whopping nine games over a one-month span, and Ross wishes they could have been able to face Fleetwood sooner.

“The difficulty for us is the number of fixtures we’re going to face in the last period of the season.

“We’ve had a tough week with Bristol (Rovers), Wycombe and Barnsley away in the space of a week – it’s difficult with everything that has evolved with it.

“On the back of those games, the break – you welcome it but because of the consequences of the Fleetwood game being postponed, I’d rather play it and not have that game to catch up on.

“We’ve experienced earlier in the season of playing catch up and what that brings.

“In an ideal world, I’d much prefer the Fleetwood game to be on but we’re in a position where we can do anything about that because of the international call ups.”