JACK ROSS admits a predicted two-month period without Chris Maguire is a significant blow to Sunderland’s promotion charge, even if he does think there is still enough attacking quality to get the job done.

The Black Cats boss confirmed yesterday that Maguire is facing up to six-eight weeks out with the broken leg he suffered during Tuesday’s victory over Gillingham at the Stadium of Light.

The forward will be having further assessment next week in the hope he will not require an operation, and he is trying to remain optimistic he will be back sooner than envisaged.

But Sunderland are preparing for being without his creativity and ability to find the net for the next couple of months, knowing they can’t allow his absence to cause too much disruption to the push for a return to the Championship.

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Maguire is the team’s second top scorer now that Josh Maja has joined Bordeaux, with his seven goals this season only bettered by winger Aiden McGeady.

Even though Sunderland added Will Grigg and Lewis Morgan to their ranks in January, having lost the option of putting Maguire on in the final third is a dent to Ross’ plans.

Ross said: “The one thing Chris has brought with him is he deals with the pressures and expectations, it’s just he walks that fine line all the time. It’s just keeping him the right side of it.

“He’s been great for me all season, he knows that. Even when he wasn’t playing, people got caught up in what had happened but Chris and I speak all the time and he knew exactly where he was at and what he had to do and he did it, which was brilliant.

“Taking that many goals and assists out of your team is always a challenge.

"I think he will because he’s thinking about the shorter end of that. He’s looking at dates and games and thinking, ‘I could be back for then.’Even if we get him back for that last part of the season, I could imagine a that time it would be a lift for us.

“He said to me on Wednesday: ‘Four weeks.’ There’s no medical opinion behind that. I don’t know where he gets that from because he’s not reading medical books, I know that.

“He told me four weeks when I phoned him on Wednesday night so we’ll see. Sometimes these things can heal quicker but he is going to be out for a minimum six weeks, you can’t get away from that."

But Ross knows there are still plenty of people capable of finding the net ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Bristol Rovers in League One.

The Sunderland manager added: “I suppose in the window I was a lot more relaxed about it. Stewart (Donald) was a little bit more anxious about ‘What if this happens?’ and ‘What if that happens?’ One of them has happened.

“We’ve lost an important player for a decent amount of time. I still feel as if we’ve got enough in attacking areas but it is still a blow for us. He hadn’t played for two or three games but that will happen through a season and he probably might admit himself he needed it a little bit and we’ve seen that response from him.

“If you measure it just on stats, his goals and assists, they’re a big part of our season. We’ve already lost Josh Maja, who contributed a lot of goals and that gets forgotten about because we signed Will Grigg but we’ve still lost a player who was our top-scorer.

“We’ve now lost the guy who’s our third top-scorer. You can’t just replace it like that but at least we’ve got options within the squad and it’s now up to the players who play in similar areas to go and take their opportunity."

On the length of time Maguire is expected to be missing, Ross said: “Chris has a fractured fibula so he'll be out for probably between six and eight weeks. He has another appointment next week just to confirm he doesn't need any surgery but we don't think that will be the case.

“He's frustrated because he just wants to play all the time. He knows he's going to not going to be able to do much for four weeks and he wants to contribute on the park. For the last two or three weeks he hasn't been involved much and he wants to play."

Sunderland will head to Bristol Rovers later today for tomorrow’s game boosted by ending a run of draws with a three point gain against Gillingham in midweek.

It means they are four points behind second placed Barnsley with a game in hand, but Ross does not feel any differently after the win – even if others might.

Ross said: “Not for me. I've been quite consistent through some of the hysteria, because that's what it is at times.  "The reality is we we've had a decent season all along, we were going through a period where we were frustrated not just by the draws but the manner of the results – a couple of them came through conceding late equalisers – and a couple we felt we'd played well and should have won. It was more satisfaction at the players feeling they got their rewards rather than any relief.”

The sight of £4m striker Will Grigg scoring his first goal since joining for Wigan in that match was another welcome boost to supporters – and the player himself.

Ross said: “Psychologically it's always important for strikers to score their first goal for a club and what Will has had to face here is a lot of attention and a lot of responsibility placed on his shoulders when we lose our top-scorer in January and we recruit none we feel can score goals for us regularly, and he will."