BRIAN CLOUGH once said of Peter Shilton that his goalkeeper was worth 15 points a season after his Nottingham Forest side won the old First Division title in 1979.

Jack Ross may not be chasing European Cup glory with Sunderland this campaign or next, but he appreciates the value of a safe pair of hands.

Sunderland, before Ross, had their problems with goalkeepers last season with Jason Steele and Lee Camp both failing to settle on Wearside.

McLaughlin arrived on a free transfer from Hearts in the summer after previously spending three years with Burton. It was hardly a cartwheel signing, but his value cannot be underestimated.

An ever-present, he has only conceded 33 times in 36 League One games this season and is in the frame to become Scotland’s number one after Allan McGregor retired.

“It's a specialised position and the importance of getting it right is high,’’ reflected Ross.

“He can win you points over the course of the season or lose them, such is the precarious nature of the position Jon plays in. But I think the confidence it breeds for the players in front is helpful, not just the back four, for obvious reasons, but the whole team.

“They believe the goalkeeper will earn them points and Jon has done that over the course of the season.

“I think you can see there's a trust in him from the group. I've said before, he's low maintenance in every single way on the training pitch, around the place and on the park.

“He's probably a dream for a manager in that respect because you know you get a consistency of performance and mood from him. In terms of how good a signing he's been for us, he's been very good.’’

Scotland chief Alex McLeish has picked McLaughlin in his squad for the Euro 2020 Group I qualifiers against Kazakhstan and San Marino later this month.

And Ross admitted: “I'm delighted for him and I think it's a recognition of his consistency of performance this season. That consistency has been there for the last couple of years, which is why he got involved in the squad last year during his time with Hearts.

“I'm also pleased that when he played with us earlier in the season during the (November) international break everything was done in the appropriate manner between myself, Alec and Jon. That's enabled him to still be considered for selection.

“I think with Allan's retirement, he believes he has a chance of playing. If you look at the goalkeepers in that squad, there's only three caps between the three of them.

“I'm biased and I would love him to play but if he does it will be fitting reward for him.’’

McLaughlin was picked for the internationals with Albania and Isreal last November, but dropped out of the squad to turn out for his club against Wycombe at the Stadium of Light.

There was no controversy as McLaughlin opted for club over country, with McLeish accepting and understanding his call.

“I think it's like everything, having dialogue around all matters is better,’’ mused Ross. “I think Alec knows I'm a fellow Scotsman for a start so I would always want the country to do well.

“Alec's had a vast amount of experience as a club manager as well so he will appreciate sometimes the challenges you have as a cub manager when players are away from important fixtures.

“I spoke to Stevie Woods, the goalkeeping coach as well and I think that just helped us manage that situation and it made sure they've kept track of how Jon's doing. With Allan's retirement and Craig (Gordon) not playing an awful lot for Celtic it's changed the dynamics of the situation.

“I think at that time Allan was very much his first choice and Craig was very close to it.’’