Ross Stewart reveals the biggest differences for Sunderland in the Championship and thoughts on Ellis Simms

Ross Stewart says there are noticeable differences between playing in the Championship and League One – but believes Sunderland are well equipped for the step up.

The Black Cats have taken five points from their opening three games since promotion to the second tier, following home draws with Coventry and QPR as well as a win at Bristol City.

“I think even though it’s only three games in you can see that teams back themselves more in this league,” Stewart told the Echo following the QPR draw, after Rangers goalkeeper Seny Dieng scored a stoppage-time equaliser.

“Like Coventry in the second half and QPR in the second half they came and got to the halfway line and played in our half, which last year not many teams did.

Ross Stewart scores Sunderland's first goal against QPR at the Stadium of Light.

“It tests you more physically and there are longer spells without the ball, mentally you have to think what you are doing defensively in your shape and that is just all part of the challenge.

“I thought for 35 minutes of that second half against QPR we were really good and we have just been undone by one bit of quality from the free-kick and then something you can’t really count for when a goalkeeper comes up.

“What you see is more quality in this league and teams certainly keep the ball better.”

Against Bristol City and QPR Stewart started alongside Everton loanee Ellis Simms up front, and the pair have scored five goals between them in the two fixtures.

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“I think I feel comfortable with somebody up next to me and Ellis is similar to myself,” Stewart added. “He’s a big lad and is very mobile.

“We both offer that threat in behind and in the air. In the last two games I think we have complemented each other really well and caused defences trouble.

“It’s an early relationship in terms of trying to build that chemistry but there are bits today where we have linked up really well and it’s only going to grow.

“When it does start to grow and we have tidied up a few bits I’m sure we will cause defences even more of a problem.”

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Stewart and Simms have also been effective pressing from the front, with Neil wanting his side to take more chances and play with attacking intent.

“I think the first three games we have set up with a high press and you have to be clued in when he’s asking what he wants,” replied Stewart when asked about Neil’s instructions.

“It works well for strikers because if you can turn that ball over in high areas of the pitch you are close to the opposition goal so hopefully you can create more chances.

“He always sets us up to win games and will continue to do so. We have full belief in him and it’s down to us as players to carry that out.

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"When we play our football we are a good team in this league, can compete in this league and we just have to show that belief week in week out.”