JACK Ross has been sacked as manager of Oxford United's Sky Bet League One rivals Sunderland.

The club announced this afternoon they had terminated the 43-year-old's contract after 17 months in the role.

Sunderland reached the play-off and Checkatrade Trophy finals last season, but are currently sixth in the division and on Saturday were beaten 2-0 by Lincoln City - managed by former United boss Michael Appleton.

In a statement on the club's official website, Black Cats chairman Steward Donald said: “This is a decision that has been made with a heavy heart.

"When we arrived at the club 18 months ago, we appointed Jack because we felt that he was the right man to take Sunderland forward over a number of years.

“Jack has worked extremely hard, and has helped us achieve stability at the club, and I sincerely thank him for his efforts.

"I hope and believe that he will go on to have a successful career in management.”

Ross's departure comes three weeks before Sunderland visit United in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup.

The Black Cats hosts Grimsby Town in the Leasing.Com Trophy this evening.