Jack Ross has been explaining the absence of two key players as his side prepare to face Blackpool this evening.
The Black Cats play one of their games in hand against the Tangerines at the Stadium of Light, knowing they have to get back to winning ways if they’re to breach the top two.
They currently have enough games in hand to get back up to second place, but only if they win both matches. They’re a point behind Portsmouth with two games extra, five behind Barnsley with the same to play and nine behind leaders Luton Town with three in hand.
They drew 1-1 with Oxford at the weekend, but there were two notable absences. Firstly, Costa Rican international Brian Oviedo wasn’t in the squad and he’s unlikely to feature this evening.
“He was injured [on Saturday] and still injured,” Ross told the Sunderland Echo. “He’s got a sore calf.”
Tom Flanagan, a lynchpin of the Black Cats defence, was also absent this weekend. He’s back in contention for tonight’s crucial match after Ross revealed it wasn’t an injury that ruled him out.
“Tom’s partner had a baby last week so we didn’t have him in until late in the week,” he said. “He didn’t train at all until Thursday.”
Sunderland are undefeated at home this season and face three matches on the spin at the Stadium of Light, with Accrington and Gillingham to follow in the next seven days.
This is the critical time for Sunderland. This is where they need to step up and be counted, where they need to press home their superior resources and utilise that impressive squad.
Three wins from three games they should be winning would see them right back on the tail of leaders Luton Town. Failure to take seven from nine as a minimum would leave them floundering in the play-off spots.