Sunderland boss makes blunt admission on Ross Stewart and his striking options after Plymouth stalemate

Alex Neil admitted that he feels Ross Stewart is suffering from fatigue as Sunderland's season enters its closing stages.

By Phil Smith
Monday, 18th April 2022, 5:59 pm

Stewart has started every league game for the Black Cats and has excelled in what is his first full season in English football, scoring 22 goals.

The Scot scored four goals in Neil's first four games, but has not registered since his two penalties in the 3-0 win over Wigan Athletic.

Despite dominating much of the second half Sunderland failed to rest the Plymouth Argyle goalkeeper in the closing stages of Easter Monday's 0-0 draw, and Neil was clear that he felt that was a consequence of fatigue in the case of both Stewart and Nathan Broadhead.

Sunderland striker Ross Stewart

Sunderland's striking options are limited after Jermain Defoe's decision to retire last month.

"Plymouth have brought a couple of front players late on and we're really light in certain areas at the moment," Neil said.

"I thought, Ross and Broady, if I could have I would have liked to have changed them to freshen things up, to help them to be honest.

"In the last 20 minutes, to be fair to the lads, they've run themselves into the ground.

"We've flogged Ross Stewart in particular into the ground this year, but unfortunately for him there isn't anybody else and that's difficult.

"It is what it is, we have to rest them up now and get them ready for the next games."

Neil says the demands on Stewart exceed anything he has faced in his career so far, but says he has little choice but to go again this weekend.

"If you look at Ross' career in its entirety, I think the most he has played in a season is 36-38," Neil said.

"At the moment I think he is now touching the mid-40s.

"To expect a lad to come to this level and churn that out repeatedly for that amount of time, having done what he has done for us already, you are asking a lot of anybody.

"I've got a lot of sympathy for Ross - however it can only go so far. We've just got to suck it up, get ready, because we have got big games coming up."