Manager's preview: Ross talks Darlington

Sunderland’s pre-season schedule gets underway on Tuesday evening as the Lads take on Darlington at Blackwell Meadows (KO 7.30).

After a gruelling training camp in Portugal, the Black Cats will ramp up their 2018-19 preparations against the National League North outfit.

The game represents an opportunity to impress, with Jack Ross revealing the Academy of Light’s next batch of young talent will line up alongside the club’s senior players.

And while fitness is the focus, the Sunderland manager is hoping to build a winning mentality throughout the course of pre-season.

“The squad is still going through a transitional phase, but we had a meeting while we were away and there’s some key foundations of how I like to play and I’m a big about standards and demands.

“We want to start reaching that standard from a very early stage and lot of what the players have done has indicated just that, so as much as these games are about fitness, we want to start winning and make it a habit as quickly as possible.”

He continued: “The trip to Portugal went as well as it could from a manager’s perspective.

“I think the players enjoyed it and the reaction we’ve got from the squad has been really positive.

“There’s always a structure and logic to what we do and after 10 or 11 days of training the players have been good and by and large they have been fit, so they will all get 90 minutes split over the next two games against Darlington and Hartlepool.

“There will be a 60 to 30 split tomorrow and then the same on Saturday, and we’ll mix it up because we had a few young ones away with us and they’ll feature over the coming games.

“A few of them will start tomorrow in and amongst the senior players, and it will be good to get some game time under our belt.”

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