JACK ROSS believes Sunderland are in a “no-win” situation ahead of Tuesday night’s battle with Newcastle United’s Under-21s, and has outlined how his long term goal is to be a manager for a full Wear-Tyne derby in the Premier League.

Ross is hoping the Black Cats can overcome the Magpies’ young guns at the Stadium of Light to secure a place in the quarter-finals of the Checkatrade Trophy, with the visitors due to bring 2,800 fans with them.

The situation is unusual because it pits Sunderland’s first team League One squad against their biggest local rivals’ youngsters in a knock-out competition, raising the prospect of embarrassment on Wearside.

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On the other hand Newcastle, under the coaching eye of Ben Dawson, can’t really lose because defeat would be a lot easier to take given its of who the opposition will be.

Ross said: “Been drawn against an Under-21s side irrespective of Newcastle is not the ideal draw for anyone. I think everyone would agree with that. It is a no-win situation.

“Because it is Newcastle doesn’t make that any different, but it is easier if you are playing against another senior team. It makes it more normal if you like. For me it is about trying to progress in this tournament.

“I would never shy away from the fact my prime responsibility is to get us back in a position where we are playing derbies, playing against Newcastle in a derby league game, ideally in the Premier League.

“That’s a task I was given and I have set myself. I would love the opportunity to do that. No matter how anyone tries to dress this up, it’s not. That’s the reality and I’m not trying to dress it up.”

There has not been a first team meeting between the two clubs since March 2016 and Sunderland have not lost one in seven matches, so from a Newcastle perspective this week’s unique fixture could make up for some damaged pride if their young team can beat Ross’ men.

Ross was smiling and relaxed when he discussed the game at the Academy of Light, even though he knows he will have to field a weaker team than he would have liked because of the schedule and injuries.

“We have no fresh injuries, we were quite stretched squad wise Saturday at Charlton, we only had 15 fit outfield senior players,” said Ross, whose side face second placed Luton Town this weekend.

“We have to consider the schedule, the importance of Saturday and this Saturday too, that will affect the team we select.

"Once you progress in the group stage of this competition, you start to understand you are only a handful of games away from Wembley. Naturally people would get excited because of the size of support we would take to a cup final. It is not our absolute priority but we want to go as far as we go in it.

“I suppose it is a very unusual set of circumstances we face, far from ideal because we are involved as a first team because of what happened in the last couple of years. One of the goals is to lead this club into a derby match at the top level. That’s not tomorrow night, it’s a Checkatrade Trophy match. That’s how we look at it.  “This isn’t a derby that is seen as the one everybody would want. If anything it gives you extra motivation to get to that position where we get to play the derby on a league footing.

“We have not spoken a huge amount about the game. The actual occasion, not really, genuinely for me it is just another Checkatrade Trophy match. It falls between two important league games. The whole club is looking at it like that."

Sunderland know a trip to Wembley would be a bonus during a season that could also end in promotion to the Championship at the first attempt.

He added: “We have not lost many matches this season, so we are just going out to view it as a match to go out and win, nothing else. We must produce the kind of performance to win.”

While Ross is focused on the visit of Newcastle’s Under-21s and then the visit of high-flying Luton just days later, he is also keeping an eye on the transfer market.

He is hoping to add to his defensive ranks this week and Celtic’s Jack Hendry, who moved from Dundee a year ago has been heavily linked and been under consideration.

Hendry’s team-mate Lewis Morgan is also someone who Ross would like, but the prospect of the attacking talent arriving could depend on what happens with Josh Maja.

Ross said: “There’s nothing at the moment. Hopefully over the course of the next few days we will get one done, but nothing concrete yet.”

Asked about interest in Morgan, Ross said: “Lewis is a player I know very well, someone I enjoyed working with. I watched his career progress so it is easy to associate us with him. That’s not to say I would not be interested in working with him again. But we have other areas that are more of a priority.”

It would be a real surprise to see leading scorer Maja line up against Newcastle. He kept his place against Charlton on Saturday despite outlining that he is not ready to sign a new contract and that he will be a free agent in the summer.

Ross said: “I don’t envisage anything happening. The communication I have had with Stewart Donald (owner) today is as you were.

“Josh will continue to be part of my squad as long as he keeps performing. There is a difference between asking to leave and not taking up a contract offer, it is the latter he has done that makes it easier for me.

“I do think we have been good for him, he is a talented footballer and how he approaches it is down to him.  "Since coming here I believe we have been good for him. We gave him the pathway into senior football. This season has been a platform to show he can handle first team football.

“Those at Charlton will have seen a performance not affected by what went on.  "I didn’t have any reason to think he wouldn’t, but you don’t know for certain. I had a chat with him Friday evening, I had no concerns in that respect.

“He is very serious about his football. He is a situation that we find ourselves sin in modern football. However it pans out teh experience will benefit him for the rest of his career, I'm sure.”