This is when Sunderland fans could see Ross Stewart in action - and what they can expect

Ross Stewart is expected to be in contention to make his Sunderland debut when Doncaster Rovers visit the Stadium of Light next Saturday.

Friday, 5th February 2021, 3:00 pm

Stewart has been recovering from a hamstring problem picked up in the latter days of his time at Ross County, but is expected to join full training at the start of next week.

Lee Johnson is adamant that he will not rush the 24-year-old, and so is he unlikely to be involved when the Black Cats travel to Shrewsbury Town on Tuesday.

"I want to be almost extra careful with that one," Johnson said.

Sign up to our Sunderland AFC newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Sunderland signing Ross Stewart

"It's particularly because his gamestyle is a real running game. What I don't want is for him to be sprinting at 75% because he's worried about his hamstring.

"There's a psychological confidence with recovering from a muscle injury and we'll build him up slowly.

"While the forwards are performing well, he won't be involved.

"Tuesday is also probably a bit early if I'm honest, barring a disaster [with the rest of the squad].

"If all goes well, we'll look to get him in the squad and involved the weekend after."

Sunderland paid a six-figure fee for the striker, who has signed a two-and-a-half year deal on Wearside with the club holding the option of an extra year.

Johnson says Stewart will have to prove himself to supporters but says the club have signed an athletic striker who can make a significant contribution to Sunderland's all-round game.

"He's a good player but he's obviously got to prove that," Johnson said.

"He's got to prove that to fans and rightly so, it should be a heavy shirt to wear because we want quality players.

"His rise is a great story and the challenge for him will be dealing emotionally and psychologically with the size of the club.

"He's a really good runner and a really good mover, he's a handful for any opposition defender, the kind of player who can flick it on and get on the end of it himself.

"He works extremely hard from the front which is a pre-requisite for players at his club, certainly in that front four where they have to understand the pressing triggers we work to.

"He's got a bit of improvement [to make] in terms of his finishing from the floor, I think," Johnson added.

"He's a good, crisp passer of the ball, but we need to do a bit of work on lowering his centre of gravity to be able to adjust and finish, like a Kevin Phillips.

"The size of him, he's more of a Quinn than Phillips but he certainly doesn't play in that mould, he's a runner similar to an Aiden O'Brien.

"He can hold it up, he's got a good touch and is tall. It's always good when you can sign a tall player because for obvious reasons I'm quite attracted to those silky, little footballers who cam press and be agile, and we get that with a tall player as well."

A message from the Football Clubs Editor

Our aim is to provide you with the best, most up-to-date and most informative Sunderland AFC coverage 365 days a year.

This depth of coverage costs, so to help us maintain the high-quality reporting that you are used to, please consider taking out a subscription to our new sports-only package here.

Your support is much appreciated. Richard Mennear, Football Clubs Editor