JACK ROSS insists he has left Sunderland with his “head held high” after losing his job at the Stadium of Light this week.

The likeable Scot has already been linked with jobs, including Hibernian and Hearts north of the border, following the decision to sack him by the Black Cats’ owner Stewart Donald.

Ross’ assistant James Fowler described how his close friend was gutted to have lost the job he loved earlier in the week, and now the former St Mirren manager has had his say.

In a statement issued via the League Managers' Association he reflected on his 18 months in charge and chose to look at his reign positively rather than reflect on the reasons for his exit or the criticism he received from fans.

Ross' statement said: "It has been an honour to have the responsibility and privilege of managing Sunderland AFC for the past 18 months, and it is with regret that I leave my position there.

"I leave with my head held high in respect to the depth of commitment and hard work my staff and I applied to the job.

"I offer my sincerest gratitude to all my staff, those who I brought with me to the club, and those who were already in place.

"Every single one of them has provided me with huge support and are not only good at their jobs, but more importantly are fantastic people.

"I would also like to extend my thanks to all the players I worked with and who bought into my ideas and workings, and I will miss the relationships I built with them.

"To the supporters of the club I offer my thanks for their welcome 18 months ago and their support since. I hope that the future brings a deserved reward for their passionate and loyal backing.

"Finally, I reflect upon two Wembley finals, one league defeat at the Stadium of Light, victories over Premier League opposition (in the Carabao Cup) and an overall progressive record and take satisfaction from them.

"Furthermore, I believe that we rebuilt a spirit within the Academy of Light under the most challenging circumstances at times. Thank you to Sunderland AFC and good luck."

Sunderland have started the search for his replacement and there is no shortage of candidates.