JACK ROSS does not expect to be involved in another game like the one against Newcastle United’s Under-21s that has put Sunderland to within two wins of a Wembley appearance.

While the Black Cats boss insists the priority this season remains promotion from League One, a 4-0 victory over the Magpies’ young guns in front of a 16,000-plus Stadium of Light crowd has secured a place in the quarter-finals of the Checkatrade Trophy.

After a tight and goalless first half, which must have raised a few nerves among the home fans and coaching staff, Newcastle’s Under-21s boasting a single first team appearance between them were left defeated in the end.

An unfortunate own goal from defender Kelland Watts soon after half-time was followed three minutes later by a Charlie Wyke header. Chris Maguire’s 78th minute thunderbolt was followed by a Benjamin Kimpioka header with four minutes remaining.

Ross – who strongly hinted Sunderland will sign Burnley defender Jimmy Dunne in the next 48 hours on loan - was full of smiles and relaxed in the media suite afterwards, relieved to have escaped the embarrassment of a defeat against Newcastle’s youngsters.

“I understood this game was different,” said Ross, who made six changes to the team that drew at Charlton in the league. “Even this tournament is unusual because you can play an under-21s team, it’s not our first team, there are some first team players, but some younger. It is hard to describe it.

“In terms of management, I hope I will not be involved in a game like this again. I probably got ‘no-win’ wrong when I described it beforehand because we obviously have won, but people understood what I meant by that.”

He added: “I spoke beforehand about it being a senior team versus an under-21s being not ideal and a lot of other factors were involved tonight. I couldn’t have asked much more from senior players and the young players. They dealt with it very well.

“Even the atmosphere and noise in the stadium, it’s just a taste of what it is like in a proper one. I strive to get these lads to play in the real derby games again. Even today with the crowd in the stadium you could see the rivalry between the two clubs, let’s bring this fixture back.”

While Sunderland will not have to face a local rival in front of a smaller Wear-Tyne derby crowd again on the road to Wembley, they could be drawn against Manchester City’s Under-21s in Thursday night’s draw. Chelsea’s Under-21s face Peterborough on Tuesday Wednesday night too.

If Sunderland can win the next two games in the Trophy then they will be heading for Wembley on March 31, and they are sure to take a massive following with them if they do. Ross, though, insists he is unlikely to change his approach to the competition in terms of team selection – even if he would love it to happen.

“One of the things pointed out to me early on was that there is a pressure to win every game, people looked at that prize and carrot at the end of it,” said Ross.

“We have kept on winning and we want to keep on doing that. It would be another positive for the club if we do get there bearing in mind where we have been as a club.

“But the league supersedes everything for us this season and it’s always impacted on squad selection. I don’t see that changing.

“We are going to have a busy schedule once we pass this month. The league will remain the priority. I have had to utilise the squad in these games, the squad has responded. We have treated it properly and we will continue to that.”

The victory did come at a cost because Duncan Watmore suffered a groin problem and was withdrawn as a precaution given how long he was out with knee injuries.

But when asked if Sunderland could have Burnley defender Jimmy Dunne in before Saturday’s visit of promotion rivals Luton, Ross added: “I’d be hopeful to confirm a defensive addition in the next day or so.”

There was also a positive vibe from the Newcastle camp after losing on Wearside.

The Magpies’ Under-21s coach Ben Dawson was heartened by the display, even though he revealed there was frustration because of the way a poor start to the second half proved costly.

“They are very disappointed, more because they don’t feel like they have done as well as they have done previously,” said Dawson. “The first six minutes of the second half put us on the back foot, that’s the experience you hope they will learn from.

“I think it was a bit harsh on us. Obviously I was disappointed with the first two. We paid the price in not paying attention to detail because we defended set pieces better first half.

“The third was a great strike and then we were always fighting after that.

“I thought the atmosphere was great. Our fans didn’t seem to stop for 90 odd minutes. The lads went over and applauded them for that. It was a great experience.”