JACK ROSS is content that Sunderland’s automatic promotion hopes are still in their own hands despite the club’s unbeaten League One home record disappearing with a remarkable 5-4 defeat to Coventry City.

The Black Cats suffered their first home league defeat of the season on an afternoon when they were never ahead in a nine-goal thriller.

The result means they have dropped out of the top two, but while they trail second-placed Barnsley by two points, they have a game in hand on their promotion rivals.

They host Doncaster Rovers on Good Friday, before completing the season with matches against Peterborough United, Portsmouth, Fleetwood Town and Southend United.

“We’re still in a position where if we win our five games, we get promoted,” said Ross. “What this has done is made the only way we can guarantee that is by winning all five. That is not easy, but it can be done.

“It brings pressure, and I’m going to need every single player who goes out there to be able to deal with that pressure. I think there’s some of them can do that at the moment, but I need others to come along and find a way of dealing with that too.”

Ross praised his players’ attitude after they clawed their way back into the game on three separate occasions, but conceded that a series of costly individual errors had ultimately proved decisive.

“Individually, some players didn’t play well,” he said. “There’s no pointy shying away from that. But at this stage of the season, with five games to go, it’s not a time for finger pointing and apportioning blame.

“If you want to blame people, blame me. Don’t blame the players because they’ve given an awful lot this season. But I’m not going to hide away from the fact that some of them individually were way off the levels they need to be at. They have to accept that, they’ll know it, but then they have to respond to it.”

Sunderland were wide open for the majority of the game, with Coventry forward Bright Enobakhare causing a series of problems whenever he dropped deep to gain possession.

The pace and movement of the rest of the Sky Blues attack also troubled the Sunderland defence, and Ross admits he was unable to tighten things up because his side was constantly chasing the game.

“Coventry are a good team and what they have in forward areas is good,” he said. “I thought they were clinical with their finishing. But we played our own part in creating the opportunities by the decision making because when you play in a certain way, you have to make the right decisions with the ball in particular.

“Defending is just about as much when you have the ball and then when you go 3-1 down it's difficult to then make the game tighter. You've got to take the chance. The problem was today we were continually chasing the game.”

Ross also defended his substitutions, revealing that Aiden McGeady has not trained since sustaining the foot injury that kept him out of Sunderland’s previous two matches.

Lee Cattermole remained on the bench when he might have been able to add some solidity at the heart of midfield, but Ross felt he had to turn to Kazaiah Sterling and Benjo Kimpioka in an attempt to get his side back into the game.

“The first double substitution, Aiden is miles off being fit,” he said. “He hasn't trained at all, and we probably gambled with more time on the pitch than we should have done but he wanted to give it a go.

“So him and Kaz coming on was to chase the game, and Benji coming on is obviously the last role of the dice given that he's an 18-year-old who hasn't played a lot.”