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Press Conference: Jack Ross on how Sunderland are coping with Charlie Wyke’s confidence issues

Jack Ross met with the press today ahead of Saturday’s game with Plymouth, discussing everything from Sunderland’s current injured list, Kieffer Moore and Charlie Wyke’s loss of confidence.

Sunderland AFC

On getting back-to-back wins changing the atmosphere...

No difference from within here. I know people will not believe when I say that, but what we do very well is not getting too carried away with either results.

I pointed out a couple of weeks ago the reality for us is that we’ve only lost two league games, and yet you would have thought that wasn’t the case from some of the reaction. We’ve had a good season and that’s remained the case.

So, when we’ve had a couple of positive results, in terms of winning back-to-back games over the course of the last week, we don’t all of a sudden become carried away with that.

So, the mood has remained exactly the same. I’ve never sensed any diminishing belief within the group or diminishing hunger to try and achieve success this season. It’s remained pretty consistent.

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On players gaining confidence as individuals...

Naturally, when you win games the initial emotion after the game is very different and ultimately, players are very competitive by nature, that’s the reason why they’ve got to this level of their chosen profession. So, in terms of that competitive side of them, they enjoy that.

But, again, when you come away from that, it’s remaining balanced throughout it. What that does do is strengthen their conviction that they can go and be successful this season. Naturally, when you’re delivering that message, you need evidence to back that up as well.

Thankfully, we’ve had that throughout majority of the season and the last couple of weeks have helped that as well.

Sunderland AFC

Were the players aware of a bad feeling from the last Plymouth game?

No, I wasn’t aware of that either, to be honest.

Certainly, for me, it was a difficult away game that we played well in and won the match.

Nothing from my side, if there was, it certainly wasn’t something I was aware of.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

On Charlie Wyke...

I don’t think you can ever just afford a player game time for sentimental reasons. However, the support you offer a player through any periods of dips in form or whatever it may be, is probably a lot of the unseen work that I talk about.

So, how we support any player through lack of form, drops in confidence, whatever it might be to keep making them better, a lot of that happens within the confines of the training ground. So, we’ll continue to do that.

That’s through communication, it’s through the work we do with them on the pitch. That remains consistent with every player and then like everything, the team we select and the squad we select is based on who we feel gives us the best opportunity to win the game.

Sometimes that’s reflected in current form, sometimes that’s a reflection of the type of game you’ll face.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

On another home game to impress the fans...

Our record at the stadium this season is good. To get to only six home league matches remaining and not to have lost in the stadium, is very encouraging considering the record in the previous couple of years.

So, we want to maintain that record, we want to maintain it with six victories between now and the end of the season in our stadium.

To do that, we need to play well, but we also need that collective effort from everybody at the club, very much from the supporters to continue to give us the foundations to do that.

Sunderland AFC

On Barnsley’s Kieffer Moore being out for the season...

I suppose that any time you lose a top scorer, it’s challenging. We’ve had that, people forget about that as well.

We lost Josh in the January window, who had scored a lot of goals for us this season. We’ve then lost another important player in Chris Maguire to a leg break. You’ve got to deal with the challenges of that.

Luton had a spell recently I think where they had all of their strikers out injured at the same time and they came through that. I’m sure Daniel and everybody else at Barnsley will believe that they can cope with that.

I genuinely don’t pay too much attention to it because the only thing we can ever effect is our own performances and results.

The good thing is, there’s a really good focus amongst the players to do that at the moment and they understand that if they keep doing that and winning games then we’re going to give ourselves a really good chance of success this season.

Rotherham United v Northampton Town - Sky Bet League One Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

Are things settling down since January?

I know I’ve commented on this a lot that the later you do your work in January, sometimes it takes longer to see the benefits of it.

So, I do feel as if we had a good window in terms of the players we recruited, but it isn’t easy to bed players in mid-season.

Also, how well the players react to it because the squad has become the most competitive it’s been all the season. Not just because of how we recruited, but it just coincided with a lot of players returning to full fitness.

I think what we’re seeing now is a response from a lot of these players, either the ones that are currently playing or the ones that aren’t, they all know they have to be absolutely at it to play in the team.

The way they’ve trained and went about things in the last couple of weeks has been really encouraging because I think every single one of them wants to play and they’re showing that they’re going to be at their best to make sure they get an opportunity.

I think that’s been the result of everything else settling down because there was a reasonable amount of change in a short period of time.

Sunderland v Wycombe Wanderers - Sky Bet League One Photo by Harriet Lander/Getty Images

On competition for places within the squad...

We’ve got a lot of good players here now. It’s been difficult, there have been players that haven’t been stripped or involved in the 18 recently who are good players. That’s going to be the case over the next couple of fixtures as well.

There’s also a balance out to that even with this weekend. We have concerns over one or two, two or three, that naturally happens when you have so many games as we’ve had recently and as we have over the next few weeks. We’re going to need that squad.

It’s definitely been encouraging that that desire to play and be involved in the squad is probably, I wouldn’t say the highest it’s been, I think it’s always been there, but everything has gone up a notch in terms of training and I think players hunger to make sure they’re in the team.

Sunderland AFC

On injury updates...

We don’t have anything really major. Bryan Oviedo is still out, Donald Love has been back in full training for a couple of weeks, but obviously he’s been out for a long time, but he’s back in and among the group.

All the other ones that we have doubts over are ones that I would prefer not to speak about and ones that we hope will be fit.

Being ultra-positive, we could have everyone available apart from Bryan and Chris, obviously. On the other side of that, we could end up with two or three important players not being available. We’ll just see how the next 24 to 36 hours go.

Gillingham v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images

On Plymouth Argyle...

I understand that they have a number of supports travelling a long way to come to the game and the numbers that are travelling show how important they view this fixture.

You’re right, it’s a team that for the last few months has been in really good form. But we’ve had that a lot recently, even going back to Scunthorpe away, I know we only drew the game against a team at that time that were in brilliant form.

Bristol Rovers last week, a team that hadn’t lost since we played them at the turn of the year. So, quite often you’re coming up against teams that are in good form.

They might not necessarily be at the top of the table because of that but have been in good recent form and Plymouth certainly fall into that category.

I would imagine that they’ll come to the stadium believing that they can go and win the game because of the form they’re in and rising to that occasion. But often, those games have suited us this season as well.

Millwall v Plymouth Argyle - Carabao Cup Second Round Photo by Harriet Lander/Getty Images

On visiting teams wanting to end our unbeaten home record...

I think that each and every team that has came to the stadium has responded to the environment positively, which has not made it easy for us.

I think they’ve all embraced it, not because we haven’t made it difficult because our home form has been good, our home performances have been good and the atmosphere that’s been created within the stadium has been good.

So, teams have needed to respond to it, and they have done that. If anything, that maybe gives them extra motivation and I suppose it would be the same if you were involved in the opposition and you were going somewhere else knowing that record is there.

It’s a proud record, one that we want to remain in-tact. I think we spoke way back in August about the important of having that good home record to give ourselves a chance of success and thankfully with six games to go, we’ve done that and that’s the reason why we’ve still got a chance of achieving promotion.

Gillingham v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images

On controlling emotions from now until the end of the season...

It’s hard because for everybody that’s involved in football, it’s very emotional. It’s easier for me than my players because it’s my job to be a manager and I have to detach myself at times from that emotion.

It sometimes means you enjoy it less because you have to make sure you have that pragmatic approach to it. Equally in supporters, that emotion that supporters go through all of the time is very evident.

Often that emotion makes people very reactive to either disappointment or success, but the truth is, the only time the table matters is at the end of the 46th game of the season.

Before that, we can all have an opinion on it, speculate on it, worry about it and get excited by it, but the only time it matters is at the end of the season.

I think if you have that plan and you continually work towards that, it’s a good basis for success. I think the players have bought into that and it’s not easy here, it’s not easy at a big club, it’s not easy at a club that has this comment continually around it to maintain that consistency of behaviour.

I think the players have got really good at it over the season and I keep stressing to them that it will stand them in good stead for not only the rest of their career, but for the rest of their life. If they can maintain that emotional balance through playing for this club, then they’re going to be OK.

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