Sunderland boss wants a ‘freshness’ on Wearside after releasing long-serving players

Jack Ross has taken charge of a club where the scale and pace of change this summer will inevitably be dizzying.

It was underlined by Stewart Donald’s revelation that very, very few players had expressed a desire to stay with Sunderland ahead of the League One campaign.

With that in mind, it may have been tempting for Ross to try and establish some sort of continuity by offering deals to the likes of John O’Shea and Billy Jones.

They were, however, two of four players to be released, and more are certain to follow in permanent deal.

Ross insists he has immense respect for O’Shea’s achievements, but wants a ‘freshness’ across the club, including the playing staff.

He is working hard with Tony Coton to make a fast start on incoming transfers in the coming weeks.

Ross said: “I was aware of it and took counsel on it, but it is about the reality of where we find ourselves, the issues we have to address at the club.

“We have to make ourselves more efficient in a number of areas, so while I’m not saying it was straightforward, as that sounds a bit callous, there’s a big rebuild we need to do so I was aware of that and I was quite comfortable with that.

“John had the opportunity remain in the Championship and you have to take that into consideration as well, and that will be something for a number of other players as well as to where they want to play their football.

“I’ve been hugely respectable of John and what he’s achieved in his career, and I spoke to him personally.

“There are a lot of things that need a freshness about them and that’s not just applying to John, it’s over the whole place.”

O’Shea has signed a one-year deal at Reading.

Ross is continuing to prepare for the return of first team players later this month.

The fourth fixture of the pre-season schedule has been confirmed with his former club St Mirren confirming that they will welcome the Black Cats on Saturday July 21, with a 3pm kick-off.

That follows trips to Darlington, Grimsby Town and Hartlepool United the previous week.

Ross admitted last week that he has a significant amount of work to do, but is remaining patient as he gets started.

He said: “It’s not just about starting as a new manager, there has to be a reality to the fact that we find ourselves in League One.

“We can’t have delusions of grandeur, we have to have a reality and then figure out the best way to structure the club in a way that gets us out of that position and put us in the best position to move forward.

“There is a fresh start to a degree, but an awful lot of things to do.

“It’s about tackling the things I can affect – there’s only a certain amount of things I can affect at this time.

“The things I can affect, I’m trying to do and with the things I can’t affect, I’m trying to remain patient.”