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Press Conference: Looks like Duncan Watmore will start for Sunderland at the SoL tomorrow night

Jack Ross met the press ahead of the Walsall FA Cup replay tomorrow night and confirmed that Duncan Watmore will take part in the game, another huge milestone on his road towards full recovery from his knee ligament surgery.

Sunderland v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

On whether the game should have started...

I think it’s very easy to make a judgement on whether it should have started or not in the aftermath of it. I think I did say immediately post-match that I did have my concerns before the game started, just in terms of the pitch with standing and what would potentially lay ahead that afternoon.

I didn’t have too many complaints about the game beginning and as I said post-match, once we got into the second-half and the rain got heavier then I think it was a very straight forward decision to call off because the pitch had become unplayable.

Regardless of when it becomes unplayable, if you can’t play football on it then the game has to be called off.

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On wiping the slate clean from the goal conceded...

The game was difficult, difficult for a number of reasons.

It’s a difficult place to go and they’re a good side as well, but when you factor in the conditions. What happen quite often in football and I can be as guilty of it as a manager, unless you’re on the pitch then you don’t always appreciate the challenges of what you’re facing.

Speaking to a lot of the players post-match and again today, the surface was really difficult. I think you could see how easily mistakes could be made in it and at that stage of the game when we conceded, the weather conditions were borderline farcical at that time.

I think you could see that with how we conceded the equaliser as well.

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On the record attendance impacting the decision...

What I would say is that the match officials, in particular the referee, how he managed and evaluated the situation, I don’t think he really took that into account.

I think he was primarily just looking at the pitch and he asked our opinion on it as managers, John and I and he was also happy to have feedback from the players.

I know people would assume that that would be something that was taken into consideration, but I think he’s an experience enough of an official that he was purely looking at it from a football perspective and I think we saw that when he made the decision that he did.

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On fixture backlog...

We would much rather of played the game and brought it to a conclusion. Obviously, we wanted to win the game and there was still a period of time where we could have gone on to do that. But I certainly think that where we fit this in will probably not be for a little while yet because Accrington are still involved in both FA Cup and Checkatrade trophy as well.

So, for both teams to find a suitable date, I’d imagine it will be a bit further down the line than where we are at the moment. It would certainly be impossible for us to fit it in at present given the number of games we have over the next five to six weeks.

On Adam Matthews...

He’ll be unavailable for tomorrow, but not too bad, certainly better than we envisaged initially at the time, when he came off. But there is no point taking an unnecessary risk with him, we’ve a number of important league games that will come up following this cup replay tomorrow night.

Queens Park Rangers v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images

On tomorrow’s game easing up the schedule...

Yes, which is good in some ways because we obviously wouldn’t like another fixture beyond that. Like we have done in all the cup competitions this year, we want to continue to progress in the tournament.

Not just for us, obviously Walsall have had a busy fixture schedule as well and I think they’ll have a similar schedule coming up because they’ll potentially still be involved in the FA Cup.

We’re conscious in the fixtures we have at present, but also in the fixtures we’ve got coming up and that will reflect in how we rotate our squad through this game as well.

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On potentially playing and winning at Bolton...

I have to be honest, I’ve not really thought too much or paid much attention to Bolton as an opponent.

Firstly, it’s just trying to win tomorrow night because I want to keep this run going that we’re on and secondly, understandably the league games that we have because we’ve got many of them between now and any potential cup ties.

When the time and place comes around to assess that tie, then hopefully that will be the case because we’ll have progressed tomorrow night.

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On team selection for tomorrow...

It’s not difficult, I’m fortunate that I’ve got players that when they’ve had the opportunity have contributed this season.

So, I have players available to play that I think have been good for us this season.

But there’s a balance between what you’ve just had and what lies ahead, as I mentioned already. We have Bristol Rovers on Saturday and then Portsmouth and then a really busy schedule.

You just have to try and plan ahead as much as you can, whilst equally being respectful of the challenge you face immediately.

Again, we’ll use our squad tomorrow night with Saturday in mind.

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On the importance of staying in cup competitions...

Very much so.

I certainly don’t think we’ve differentiated between the importance of competitions. I have been very honest about what is the absolute priority for us and that will remain the case throughout the course of the season.

But I do think that because of what we’ve wanted to try and create within the club this season was the mentality that was used to winning games every single week.

I think if we’d have exited every cup competition at the first time of asking, I don’t think that would have lent itself to us potentially having the league season we’ve had as well.

So, I think it’s important for us to continue that momentum.

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On being familiar with playing Walsall...

I think I’ve said previously that I’ve faced this more often in Scotland where you play each other more regularly in the league and you can face each other in cup competitions.

It’s fairly unusual to have faced each other so many times in such a short period of time.

It removes any element of surprise going into the game, even for the players on the pitch and even for your analysis and preparation.

I was going to say easier, but certainly for both clubs it will be far less time consuming than it would be ordinarily.

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On Duncan Watmore’s involvement...

Well, Duncan will be back in the squad for the game and we had always planned that, even prior to the Checkatrade Trophy match.

It was our intention to have him involved in that game, miss the weekend and be back involved for the Walsall match.

So, he’s in the squad as planned tomorrow and the opportunity to get him on the pitch again will be good for us.

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On dealing with the frustration of Saturday’s game...

I think it was a peculiar afternoon for everybody on Saturday, even for the players.

Generally, you’ll find that players want to finish a game because that’s how they are by nature. I think once that emotion had subsided for them, I think they recognised that the conditions were very difficult, for both teams.

I think we saw that in the game, it was entertaining enough, but it wasn’t a normal game because of the weather conditions.

As I mentioned, when they take a breath and a step back from it, they understand that they have been in a good position and nothing has gone awry from Saturday in terms of the result or the consequences of playing in those conditions.

I think they were frustrated initially, but I think once they had time to settle on it, they understood that it may not have been a bad thing for the way the game ended up.

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