Sunderland manager Lee Johnson has revealed exactly how the club brought Ross Stewart to the Stadium of Light back in January.
In recent comments cited by the Sunderland Echo, the Black Cats boss shed light on the club’s pursuit of the centre-forward, as well as revealing that the 25-year-old turned down a number of Championship clubs in order to join the Mackems.
Discussing the January swoop for the Scot, Johnson said: “Rossco turned down Championship moves to come here, as well. The fact that he initially had a hamstring injury probably helped keep him under the radar a little bit, though, to be honest, we didn’t initially think it was as bad as it actually was.
“The journey he’s had really excited me as well because he’s progressed bit by bit. He’s been a bit of a late developer and that’s something I always like because that physicality comes with it. I think Ross could play until 36/37 to be honest, as long as he steers clear of injuries. He’s got that agility.
“So in the end the club made the decision it was the right thing to do [to make that investment]. It wasn’t necessarily a succession plan for Charlie [Wyke] because we absolutely saw them playing together, but, of course, it was part of the thinking, it had to be.”
Considering just how impressive Stewart has been for Sunderland so far this season, the news that the Black Cats managed to land the 25-year-old ahead of a number of second-tier sides in last season’s winter transfer window is sure to have the Stadium of light faithful buzzing.
Indeed, over his nine League One appearances this term, the £450k-rated centre-forward has scored seven goals and created one big chance for his teammates, as well as taking an average of 3.4 shots and making 1.4 key passes per game.
So, despite the fact that the club’s 2021/22 campaign is still very young at present, with Sunderland topping the League One standings and Stewart currently ranked joint-second in the division’s top scorers chart, the signing of the striker very much looks to have already been vindicated, while the Mackems fans could also have a new cult hero at the Stadium of Light.