Kevin Phillips has shared a ‘concern’ that he now has for Sunderland involving Ross Stewart.
The Lowdown: Defoe retires
Jermain Defoe announced his retirement from professional football back in March, meaning that the Stadium of Light faithful only have two recognised strikers at the club in Stewart and Nathan Broadhead.
Should Sunderland start Stewart?
The latter has been struggling with injury, and so may not feature at home to Gillingham on Saturday afternoon, meaning that Stewart will likely lead the line once more in the League One clash.
The Latest: Stewart worry
Speaking to Football Insider, former Black Cats striker Phillips has claimed that it would now be a ‘major concern’ if Stewart were to get injured, amid fears of potential burnout for the 25-year-old:
“They are down to the bare bones now.
“There is no two ways around it. It is there for everyone to see.
“Ross Stewart has been an incredible player for Sunderland this season. Just like Charlie Wyke was last season, they have relied heavily on him. The goalscoring charts show that.
“It would be a major concern if he was to get injured. The good thing is, he is a very durable player who does not miss many minutes of football.
“The sensible route from Alex Neil would be to manage his game time. Wrap him up in cotton wool. Sit him out of sessions if need be. Keep him ready for the matches. Ross has done exceptionally well this season.”
The Verdict: Hard to rest him
Given the predicament now with Broadhead, and the fact that the Wearside club need to stay in promotion contention, it is hard to rest Stewart from now until the end of the season.
He is their top scorer by far with no fewer than 22 goals scored in total over all competitions, with Broadhead the next best (seven).
SAFC are currently outside of the play-off places, and while Gillingham are further down the table, three points are absolutely vital in keeping up with the leading pack.
Thus, they will need to play Stewart at full pelt in order to give them the best possible chance of winning, even at the risk of the Scotsman potentially picking up an injury.
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