Jack Ross is ‘looking forward’ to Tuesday night’s derby against Newcastle United.
Whilst not surprisingly Newcastle fans find the whole thing hilarious, everybody associated with Sunderland finds it acutely embarrassing that they have a first team match against their local rivals’ kids.
The Checkatrade draw was one that no Mackem wanted and Sunderland were quick to break the competition’s rules, giving Newcastle fans only 2,800 tickets rather than the minimum 4,900 they should have been entitled to.
Jack Ross has met the media on Monday afternoon for his Checkatrade press conference and the Sunderland boss says that he ‘dreams’ of one day being in the same division as Newcastle United.
Ross admitting that Tuesday night’s match is ‘far from ideal’ for Sunderland.
Whilst accepting that it is a derby match of sorts, he claims it isn’t ‘the derby…that everybody would want it to be.’
For Newcastle fans, this is a ‘derby’ match where it isn’t possible to lose.
If the Under 21s beat the Mackems it will be hugely embarrassing for Sunderland, whereas those on Wearside can hardly claim it is any kind of a ‘victory’ if they beat a bunch of Under 21s from Newcastle.
Extra dedicated Metros have been laid on for the Newcastle fans travelling to the game, whilst the club’s NUFC TV are showing the game online for an extortionate £10, a price which they say the EFL told them they have to charge punters to watch this Checkatrade Trophy match.
“It (Sunderland’s first team playing Newcastle Under 21s) s a very unusual set of circumstances.
“If I’m honest, it’s far from ideal.
“I mean because we are involved in this competition as a first team, due to what has happened (consecutive relegations bottom of the table) in the last couple of years.
“One of the ambitions, goals or targets for me coming here as manager, is to lead this club into a derby match (against Newcastle’s first team), hopefully at the top level.
“This is not what tomorrow night is.
“It is a Checkatrade trophy match and that’s really how we’re looking at it.
“Our preparations have been the same, our approach to the game will be the same, as it has been when it was Stoke Under 21s or whether it was Morecambe, Carlisle or Notts County, or whoever it was.
“It (not having derbies in the league) is a disappointment for us because that’s a consequence of us having suffered relegations.
“Newcastle have retained their place in the top league in that period and so, that’s when the disappointment or soreness of that becomes more acute, when a fixture like this comes around.
“The drive for me is to take the club back to playing in these fixtures.
“I mean that in the most respectful manner because this isn’t the derby or a derby that is seen as the one that everybody would want it to be.
“It just gives us the extra motivation to make sure that, hopefully in future, I get the chance to manage a Sunderland team in this derby and it’s done on a league footing and we both find ourselves, ideally in the top league.”