JACK ROSS admits he has been forced to change direction in his search for a new left-back, having missed out on four different targets in the final few hours of last week’s transfer window.

The Sunderland boss watched his side claim their first win of the season last night as a 3-1 success at Accrington Stanley set up a trip to Premier League Burnley in the Carabao Cup second round.

Goals from Marc McNulty, Aiden McGeady and Charlie Wyke earned the Black Cats a first-round win at Accrington’s Wham Stadium, and eased some of the pressure that had been building ahead of Saturday’s crunch league game with Portsmouth.

With Denver Hume struggling with a groin problem, Ross had hoped to have a new left-back on board by the weekend, but he suffered a succession of frustrations last week. Four of his targets joined Championship clubs before the transfer window for the top two divisions closed on Thursday afternoon, forcing him to turn his attentions elsewhere.

“We’re still trying to get the right one in,” said Ross, who is able to bring in new players until September 2. “We suffered a little bit, the Championship and Premier League window shut last week, we had four we believed we had a chance of getting and they all moved to Championship clubs. It was one of those days for us.

“We knew it was unlikely but could happen, and it did happen. It’s not back to the drawing board, we’re been working hard at it and it’s an area of the pitch where we know we need more options. We saw that tonight. In fairness to Conor McLaughlin, we’re asking him to play out of position for us. He’s doing okay, but it’s not entirely fair on him.”

McLoughlin filled in at left-back last night as Ross made six personnel changes and reverted to a flat back four following his side’s disappointing start to the season.

Alim Ozturk and Max Power made a positive impression as they returned to the starting line-up, with Grant Leadbitter also impressing as he made his first appearance of the campaign.

McGeady made an instant impact after coming off the bench midway through the second half, and Ross admits he has a welcome headache ahead of Saturday’s meeting with a Portsmouth side that proved a regular thorn in Sunderland’s side last season.

“I said there were parts of the game we were disappointed with on Saturday, but in the second half I thought we got the fundamentals better and we carried that into tonight,” said the Black Cats boss. “You need to do that against a team in this league, then you hope you have the quality you have will come through. I thought that was the case tonight.

“We created a lot of chances. I was frustrated when we conceded because I thought we had control of the game – we have to learn from that – but then the reaction to conceding was good.

“We were always going to make changes, but the start to the season has been a bit frustrating, so I think players recognise without me telling them that there were opportunities for them to impress tonight and make my job more difficult in terms of the teams I pick moving forward.

“It’s pleasing that they all contributed. Then you add to that the fact that the players that came off the bench also had a positive impact as well.”

Ross was especially pleased to see McNulty open his Sunderland account following his summer loan move from Reading.

“I’m not going to downplay the importance of him (McNulty) getting that goal,” he said. “Strikers can come to clubs and their all-round contribution can be good, but ultimately, they’ll be judged on goals. Ultimately, that’s why they’re brought to the club.

“For him to add to his all-round good play so far by scoring the first goal and hitting the bar is good, and then the third is why we brought him as well. I’ve known him for a long time and watched a lot of him, and I know he does that really well for a striker. His awareness and unselfishness to set other people up, he’s done that throughout his career, and he’s done it for that third goal really well.”