MARC McNULTY felt his Sunderland career was just about to really get going when Jack Ross was sacked, fuelling the striker’s decision to be reunited with his former boss on deadline day.

The 27-year-old only started seven games for the Black Cats in League One before having his season long loan cut short to enable him to head to Hiberian to work under Ross again. Six of those arrived when the Scot was in charge at the Stadium of Light.

McNulty’s only league start under Phil Parkinson was in the now infamous 1-0 defeat at Gillingham on December 7, which was followed by the news that Aiden McGeady would never play for the club again. He ended up heading to Charlton on deadline day himself.

In fact McNulty, who was on loan from Reading, only appeared in three more Sunderland matches as a substitute because Parkinson had effectively made up his mind that he wanted him replaced.

That is why the much-travelled former Livingston forward has been happy to return north of the border to work under Ross, who he was grateful to for giving him his chance at Sunderland even though it never worked out.

“I thought long and hard about it,” McNulty said. “I had a couple of other options down there, but similar to last year I chose to come here. It paid off then, and hopefully it does the same. I’ve not played much over the last couple of months and it’s been a bit frustrating.

“I was just getting going just before the manager left, which was frustrating. But I appreciate him giving me the opportunity to come back here.”

McNulty was a success story in the second half of last season on loan at Hibernian, which was largely why Ross moved for him last summer. Sunderland’s successful attempt top let him go in January allowed Parkinson to bring in Antoine Semenyo from Bristol City on loan.

Semenyo made his debut when he came off the bench in Saturday’s disappointing defeat at Portsmouth; a result which has seen Sunderland drop out of the top six again after an end to a nine-match unbeaten run.

Sunderland will be looking to get back to winning ways this weekend when they could climb level on points with fourth placed Ipswich if they can win at the Stadium of Light. It is the first of a run of four home games in five matches that could see their promotion fortunes take a massive turn for the better.

Sunderland will be keeping a close eye on defender Joel Lynch this week even though there is no major concern surrounding his well-being after he was knocked unconscious in the latter stages at Fratton Park.

Lynch collided with goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin and after receiving medical attention he left the ground on a stretcher and was taken to hospital. It is hoped he has not picked up any other injuries.

Tom Flanagan and Alim Ozturk are the alternatives at the back for Parkinson to rely on, and both have been unfortunate to lose their places of late, particularly following the arrival of Bailey Wright from Bristol City too.

Striker Charlie Wyke also sustained a shoulder injury in the same game and he will be assessed as the week goes on to determine whether he can face the Tractor Boys.

Kyle Lafferty and Semenyo are alternatives if Wyke doesn’t make it, but Parkinson has been impressed with the former Bradford man since taking over and hopes he can make a quick recovery.

Sunderland midfielder Max Power was hugely disappointed with the manner of the weekend defeat. he said: “I think the second half was probably a bit unrecognisable from what we’ve been like lately. The timing of the goal in the second half, we didn’t recover from it.

“I thought Portsmouth came out really strong in that second half and mauve, the amount of games and travelling, I’m not going to make any excuses but maybe it caught up with us a bit. We didn’t win any second balls in that second half but, goal aside I thought we were top drawer in the first half.”