Sunderland manager Jack Ross has revealed why he decided to drop Grant Leadbitter and Chris Maguire for yesterday’s clash with Rotherham United at the Stadium of Light.
The duo had both started for the Black Cats in their 3-1 victory over Accrington Stanley last Saturday but were replaced by Conor McLaughlin and Dylan McGeouch.
Whilst Ross admitted that Maguire’s absence was due an ongoing ankle issue (via the Sunderland Echo), Leadbitter’s omission was a tactical decision.
Sunderland made a flying start to the game as Marc McNulty gave them the lead after 34 seconds following neat work from Alim Ozturk.
The Black Cats were then given the opportunity to double their advantage as Rotherham defender brought down Lynden Gooch in the penalty area.
However, Aiden McGeady was unable to convert from the spot as his effort was saved by goalkeeper Daniel Iversen.
Ross’ side were made to rue this miss in the second-half as Jake Hastie equalised for the Millers.
Whilst Sunderland did push forward for a winner in the closing stages, they were ultimately forced to settle for a 1-1 draw.
Speaking to the Sunderland Echo after the clash about his team selection, Ross said: “Chris [Maguire] obviously missed the Peterborough game with an ankle injury and was very much touch and go for Accrington.
“I though long and hard about playing him because he still had some issues in training.
“That was primarily the reason behind that.
“Grant [Leadbitter’s omission] was just to freshen it up in that area of the pitch.
“But also we have a quick turnaround between Saturday and Tuesday, and we wanted to play a little bit differently.”
Whilst it is hard to argue against the reasoning behind Ross’ decision to bench Maguire, the move to switch up Sunderland’s midfield by replacing Leadbitter ultimately backfired.
When you consider just how impressive Sunderland were against Accrington, there was no need to make this particular alteration and thus it would not be surprising if the 43-year-old decides to bring Leadbitter back into his starting eleven for Saturday’s clash with Bolton Wanderers.