Sunderland, Can Ross Stewart cut it in the Championship for Sunderland next season?

Can Ross Stewart cut it in the Championship for Sunderland next season?

Sunderland are returning to the Championship after an arduous four-year spell in League One.

Alex Neil’s arrival midway trough last season saw Sunderland gain the tactical and mental edge needed to break out of the third tier.

Ahead of the new Championship season, few know what to expect from a Black Cats side who’ve had a fairly quiet, but still impressive summer transfer window.

The club has made only permanent signings so far, with Dan Ballard and Aji Alese both joining, whilst Jack Clarke and Leon Dajaku have both seen their stays made permanent.

Perhaps the biggest win of this summer window so far for Sunderland though is the fact that they’ve kept hold of star striker Ross Stewart.

He’s had links to the likes of Rangers and Norwich City this year. It’s no surprise given the fact that he scored 26 goals in League One last season, sealing Sunderland’s return to the second tier with a tidy finish v Wycombe Wanderers in the final before earning a place in the Scotland national side.

But can Stewart transfer the same form into the Championship next season?

Stewart’s time to shine…

It’s certainly a big ask for Stewart to go and score 20+ goals in the Championship next season. It’s a huge step up and there’s a lot of teams putting together impressive summer transfer windows, so the quality at the top of the table is going to be higher than ever.

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And Stewart, going into what is only his second full season in English football, has added pressure on his shoulders given the fact that he’s Neil’s main – and perhaps, only significant – source of goals.

The Black Cats boss has made clear his need for striking options but as it stands, Stewart is his man.

Stewart certainly has the physicality to cope with Championship football. He’s a well-rounded striker too, capable of scoring an array of goals which will hold him in good stead in the Championship, where different teams offer a lot of different threats and defences.

The question may be whether or not his Sunderland teammates can back him up. Whether they can present Stewart with enough chances to score, and also, whether or not Neil can bring in another striker to give Stewart some resting time throughout the campaign.

This 2022/23 campaign may be somewhat different given the World Cup break. But Stewart certainly has the oppurtunity, and the skill-set to shine next season, but Neil will need to cater towards the Scot’s talents and provide him with some back-up too.

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