Respite will be key for Sunderland ahead of Portsmouth promotion clashÂ

Jack Ross feels Sunderland's respite period will be key ahead of his side's trip to Pompey.

Tuesday, 18th December 2018, 2:36 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 10:06 am
Sunderland manager Jack Ross.

And the boss is relishing the Black Cats' clash against their promotion rivals at Fratton Park. 

Kenny Jackett's table-toppers go into Saturday's match five points above third-placed Sunderland.

Ross' troops have two games in hand on Pompey, though, and the result could have ramifications on which club reaches the Championship next season.

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Sunderland manager Jack Ross.

Neither side have a midweek fixture to negotiate in the build up, meaning both have ample time to prepare. 

Ross believes that will be crucial to the Black Cats' planning '“ especially with a 338-mile journey to also factor in. 

And while Sunderland are used to playing in front of a packed Stadium of Light, the manager admits it'll be unusual for his troops to perform at a sold-out Fratton Park. 

Ross told the Sunderland Echo: '˜It's good for everybody '“ players, staff '“ to have a wee breather for a couple of days and it's a great game for us.

'˜It's unusual for us to go to such a big stadium and it be a full house.

'˜It will be good. I'm excited about it and the players will be as well but we'll enjoy the brief respite.'

Sunderland could be without Scotland international Jon McLaughlin for their visit to PO4. 

Yet Ross has every confidence in second-choice keeper Robbin Ruiter if he's required to play at Pompey.