Saturday Sep 15, 2018. 13:00
Jack Ross, the manager of EFL League One side Sunderland, says he has hardly met either of the club’s want-away African stars Didier Ndong and Papy Djilobodji.
Djilobodji is no longer on the Black Cats’ books, having had his contract cancelled earlier this week after he finally returned for duty but fell short of the mark in routine fitness tests.
And it is widely expected that Sunderland will take similar action against Ndong, who has refused to return to training.
Ross has shrugged off the controversy, insisting that he has hardly spent any time with the players and simply gets on with his job of managing the first team.
“I only met Papy for the first time [last week] and I’ve never met Didier, so it’s been pretty simple for me to be honest,” the Sunderland manager is quoted by the Telegraph.
“I know it sounds a bit cold, but they never came across my path, so I never had the opportunity to gauge them, either as individuals or as players. I don’t envisage that changing. It might, but I don’t envisage it will.
“They’re employed to do a job [and they’re not doing it], just like people from other walks of life.
“That’s where it becomes more complicated, and if you dropped people from the outside who don’t pay a lot of attention to football, into the middle of this, they would probably struggle to get their heads around it.
“But that’s just the nature of where we are with the game at the moment. Each and every case has to be taken on its own merits.
“I used to work with the PFA and I’ve done quite a bit of work for FIFPro. I’ve seen some cases where players have been treated appallingly by clubs.
“But I’ve also seen cases where players have behaved appallingly and not in line with what you would expect from them as professionals.
“My experience is that there’s probably more procedures put in place to protect the player, in the case when the club was wrong, so there has to be that balance between the two.”