Five Sunderland players who could receive more game time following Ross Stewart's injury setback

Sunderland striker Ross Stewart has been ruled out for at least six weeks with a thigh injury – with Black Cats boss Tony Mowbray challenging other players to step up.

Stewart has been influential in Sunderland’s promising start to the season, scoring five goals in seven Championship appearances, yet his absence is likely to force a change of approach.

Here are some of the players who could receive more game time in the coming weeks:

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Patrick Roberts

Patrick Roberts playing for Sunderland against Middlesbrough. 05-08-22. Picture by FRANK REID

Roberts was the player who replaced Stewart at short notice when the latter picked up an injury in the warm-up against Middlesbrough.

Instead of playing with two recognised strikers, the Black Cats operated with two No 10s as Roberts and Alex Pritchard were deployed behind Ellis Simms.

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Due to a lack of forward options, Mwbray may opt to change his side’s shape to play with an extra playmaker, or with natural wingers in a 4-2-3-1 system.

Both moves would suit Roberts who hasn’t been helped by the team’s change of shape to play with a back three and wing-backs this campaign.

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Elliot Embleton

Like Roberts, the 23-year-old has fallen down the pecking order this season, starting just three of eight Championship fixtures.

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Embleton can play in multiple positions behind a striker and, while he may not be as dynamic as some of the squad’s other options, he has demonstrated his technical ability to create and score goals.

At the end of last season Embleton registered five goals and two assists in 14 appearances, averaging a goal contribution every 97 minutes.

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Amad Diallo

The Manchester United loanee made his Sunderland debut off the bench at Middlesbrough and operated in a forward role just behind Simms.

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While Amad is seen as a wide player, the 20-year-old can also pose a threat through the centre by making runs in behind the opposition’s defence.

Whether it’s as a wide player or as a makeshift striker, Mowbray will be looking for ways to get the best out of the Black Cats’ new signing.

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Leon Dajaku

After showing signs of promise at the end of 2021, it’s been a frustrating year for the German winger.

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Dajaku made just four competitive appearances from the start of February as he struggled with illness at the end of last season.

He then picked up a thigh injury in pre-season and has made just two appearances off the bench this term.

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Still, while he’s predominantly played as a winger, Sunderland also see Dajaku as someone who could play up front, a role he was deployed in during pre-season.

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Max Thompson

While it’s unlikely the 20-year-old will be thrown straight into the starting XI, we may see the striker promoted to the bench in the coming weeks.

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After joining Sunderland from Burnley in the summer, Thompson has impressed for Sunderland’s under-21s side, scoring five goals in three appearances in Premier League 2, Division 2, including a hat-trick against Derby County.

His performances resulted in Thompson being nominated for the Premier League 2 Player of the Month award for August.