Sunderland boss explains the next steps after Ross Stewart decision - and drops exciting Dan Ballard update

Tony Mowbray expects Ross Stewart to be available when Sunderland face West Brom next Monday – and says that Dan Ballard isn’t far behind.

Mowbray opted not to include Stewart, who returned to full training on Thursday, in the match day squad as the Black Cats secured a 3-0 win over Millwall.

The Scot make his return in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Middlesbrough on Wednesday, clearing the way for him to make a competitive return against Carlos Corberan’s much-improved side.

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"At the end of the day what matters is my relationship with Ross and with the medical department, where trust is really important,” Mowbray said.

"The medical department thought it was dangerous to pick him. If he started or came off the bench and had to come off again, your questions would be about whether it was worth the risk we'd taken. I think he needs to have trained for a week - we've got a bounce game against Middlesbrough on Wednesday and we might give him some minutes in that.

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"He was chomping at the bit and he think he's ready, so we hopefully by next Monday he will be ready.

"We don't think Dan Ballard is too far behind either - someone just said in the dressing room there's two of our very best players, we can only get better. Let's hope that proves to be the case."

Sunderland striker Ross Stewart

Lynden Gooch, Dennis Cirkin and Aji Alese all made successful returns from injury against Millwall – significantly improving the depth available to Mowbray across the pitch.