Sunderland have dropped out of their position in sixth following a draw with Plymouth Argyle on Monday night, with the League One play-off battle extremely tight, the Black Cats can’t afford to drop any more points.
Following the loss to their play-off position rivals, the top six has changed yet again with Wycombe Wanderers matching the Mackems for points on 77 with one more game played in sixth, whilst Sheffield Wednesday and Plymouth take place in fourth and fifth matched for 79 points.
With that in mind, Alex Neil must consider the changes needed in his squad and the impact needed to ensure that his team can secure a chance at promotion to the Championship at the end of this season with just three games remaining.
“We’ve flogged Ross Stewart in particular into the ground this year.
“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.”
The £2.7k-per-week striker who has been claimed to be “fatigued” by Echo journalist Phil Smith, is the club’s top goal-scorer so far with 22 goals, starting every single league game only being subbed off four times in the second half over the entire season, so it is no wonder that there are concerns about the Scotsman being tired.
It would be a huge risk and a bold call to drop their star man, but if Neil does decide to axe Stewart from the starting line-up for the next game against 12th place Cambridge United on Saturday afternoon, it could ultimately pay off in the closing stages of the season.
Should Sunderland find themselves successful in finishing in the top six, there will be three huge additional games on top of the last three league games to secure promotion, so surely resting the striker against Cambridge United could be Neil’s last opportunity to allow Stewart to revive his goal-scoring form.