JACK ROSS is urging his Sunderland players to pile some “psychological pressure” on their promotion rivals at the top of League One by beating Accrington Stanley in tomorrow night’s televised game at the Stadium of Light.

The Black Cats kick off the League One programme by playing before the rest of the teams involved in the League One promotion race, and Ross is hoping they will steal a march on their rivals by claiming what would only be a second home league win of the year.

If Sunderland win tomorrow, they will climb to third position in the table and close to within a point of second-placed Barnsley, who host Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday afternoon.

Ross said: “There's a very obvious psychological incentive for us to win on Friday, then you can enjoy your (Saturday) afternoon looking at other results coming in and knowing you've put yourself in a position where you've done your part in this round of fixtures.

“That is one advantage of playing before everyone else does and it's up to us to make sure that come Saturday, we're in that position.”

Will Grigg is set to continue up front despite having missed two gilt-edged chances in Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Blackpool, and having brought in five players during the January transfer window, Ross is delighted with the number of options available to him as he selects his side to face Accrington.

He said: “I do believe we have strengthened the group in terms of the quality and the number of options available to us. It's just then, as always, hoping when they get that opportunity, they take it.

“Duncan (Watmore) was a good example of that. He hadn't started a game since Portsmouth but he was a good example that when these players get a chance to start they have to perform like that. That's all you can hope for.

“Whoever gets their opportunities on Friday, we'll be looking for the same level of performance from them.”