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Press Conference: No Jack Ross at today’s media gathering - so Sunderland assistant took charge

Anyone else reckon Jack Ross might be a bit sick of doing a Press Conference every few days? And who can blame him, what with so many games crammed in to a short space of time. Today, James Fowler took the reins - here’s the full transcript.

Sunderland AFC

On being in the ideal position...

I think it’s been our target from the start of the season, obviously to try and get promotion and find ourselves in the top two positions.

Currently, we find ourselves there.

As you said, with six games to go and lots to play for. Especially the last ten days, coming off the back of the cup final, we’ve had a tough run of games and to take seven points out of that, we’re relatively pleased.

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On looking at the bigger picture after Tuesday night...

I think you’ve got to give credit to Burton as well, who I thought were good.

Maybe that run of games just caught up with us a little bit, I think we looked a little bit, not so much physically tired, but mentally tired.

The decision making during the game probably wasn’t what it needed to be, but from the run of games we’ve had since the cup final, seven points, we’d have probably taken that.

Sunderland AFC

Does it have to be promotion for a successful season?

From day one, the manager has always said about promotion and that has been the aim from day one.

The cup final was probably a bonus, you experience Wembley, you want to win the cup when you’re there, but I think the main focus for the club should be promotion.

Obviously, we’re in the automatic spots just now and hopefully, if we continue our current form we’ll remain there as well.

Sunderland AFC

On two big home games coming up...

Yeah, two big games.

Coventry are in a good run of form, they’ve been decent.

We had a tough game against them down there, they’ve got quite a young squad as well and they’re playing some good football.

We’ve watched their recent games, so they’ll be a threat.

I think they’ll believe that if they put a strong run together, they can sneak into the playoffs themselves.

They’re going to be dangerous, but we’re at home and hopefully we can get a big crowd as well, just for the final push between now and the end of the season to get us over the line.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

On the part the fans will have to play...

Yeah, the fans have been huge.

They’ve travelled in their numbers as well, considering the distances involved.

I think we’ve sold out every away ground that we’ve been to.

The support we’ve had at home has been great as well and they’re going to play a key part in that because the boys will be tired in stages and hopefully just that vocal support that we’ve had throughout the season continues and it will be enough to get us in the top two.

NurPhoto via Getty Images

On people who expected us to run away with the league...

I think there’s an expectation here because the club is massive and it finds itself in League One.

That’s something we’ve had to deal with since day one.

I think the changes that have gone on in the background, not everyone will see or know about as well.

That’s something that the manager has dealt with and there’s obviously private stuff that the manager won’t disclose in public.

There’s been a lot of challenges, from the transition from Premier League down to the Championship and then a big jump with a change in ownership and a change in management as well.

Probably quite a big turnaround in the squad as well.

We weren’t really sure where we were going to be squad wise, when the first day of the season came, I think there were only 10 or 11 players in.

So, there’s been a big turnaround and everybody has been focused on that promotion, so with a strong finish this season we can get there.

Sunderland AFC

On how well Jack Ross has done this season...

I’ve been working with the manager now for two-and a-bit years and I’m impressed with him every day he comes in.

His training, the way he manages the group, the way he speaks with the press and engages with fans as well.

I think he’s been a great example of a younger manager/coach.

He’s quite hands on around the club, he’s someone who likes to be involved on a daily basis on the training ground and I think the way he’s handled the size of this club and the position it found itself last season is a massive credit to him.

We’re just here to try and support him as best as we can.

Sunderland AFC

Does he do much outside of football?

Not much.

He’s demanding in that aspect as well, if he leads by example then the staff will follow.

He’s got hard working staff, we probably share as much as we can, but he’s always the first one in and the last one out.

That’s not something that’s always noticed from outside the club, but I think the players, the staff, the chairman and the board know how hard he’s working to get success for Sunderland.

Sunderland AFC

On current injuries...

I think the injuries are much the same as they were.

There’s been one or two lads that have came back and done light training today.

Dylan McGeouch has got a strain from the other night, so he’ll miss the weekend and he’s added to that list.

Chris Maguire trained today, it’s the first time he’s been back on the training pitch, so we’re glad to see him back, but he’s still short of fitness and match sharpness.

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

On Ross mentioning this could be the game for Maguire...

Yeah, we’ll just see how he’s feeling, he’s done a little bit of training today, so we’ll see how he’s feeling today and tomorrow.

He’s been out a while and once you’re back in within the group it lets you see how you are fitness wise.

We’re working with him to try and get him back up to match speed as quickly as we can.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

On McGeady and Cattermole...

They’re still injury doubts, they’ve still got niggles.

It would be great to have them back in the squad.

They’ll be assessed in the next 24 hours to see where they are for Saturday.

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