Jack Ross has challenged forward Chris Maguire to secure himself a regular starting spot after his hat-trick earned Sunderland a 3-1 win at home to AFC Wimbledon.
Former Bury forward Maguire sealed the Black Cats’ third League One win in a row with his first hat-trick for the club.
Ross said: “I speak a lot to Chris because he’s a little bit of an enigma at times. He has real quality about his play and with the quality he has, he should always be in my team. That’s my message for him. I speak about it a lot with him.”
His goals were watched by the group of American investors – Glenn Fuhrman, John Phelan and Robert Platek – who are on the verge of taking over the Wearside club.
And Sunderland manager Ross was delighted with the way his side won – even if he wasn’t thinking about having new bosses.
Ross added: “I’ve not met them, no. My focus was very much on trying to prepare the team for today.
“It’s OK for me. It’s never quiet here! I don’t think a day goes by when I don’t have to deal with something.
“We spoke beforehand about the importance of continuing this momentum we’ve built up and when you play at home it gives you a good chance.
“Winning the game is the thing that matters but doing it in the manner we did is really pleasing. It could have been more emphatic in terms of the scoreline but it was really pleasing in terms of the overall performance.”
Maguire’s eighth minute chip over goalkeeper Nathan Trott was cancelled out in the 34th minute when Kwesi Appiah headed in against the run of play.
But Maguire’s drive deflected through a crowded area and into the net put Sunderland ahead eight minutes after the break and he headed in the third 11 minutes from time.
Wimbledon boss Wally Downes, who is still searching for a first win this season, said: “We’re coming up against players who’ve played in the Premier League and players bought with the Championship in mind.
“If you can add the odd freebie who does well, good for them. It’s a good test for them. It’s got to hold us in good stead.
“It was a very tough game. We didn’t help ourselves by conceding in the second half very early. It was difficult to come back from one down. We said at half-time we had a chance to win the game.
“It’s a grind to come back twice at a place like this. Although we weren’t a great threat, we were still in it. To give one away when we gave it away, it’s a big ask.
“I’m sure Sunderland in the same scenario could march on and roll over teams. At 2-1, although we weren’t really in the game, they weren’t threatening. With the resources they have, definitely they’ll be challenging again.”