Jon Guy says...
I think he needs to be eased back in, so with that in mind, Mowbray could maybe bring him on for the final thirty minutes on Monday.
He’s been out for a long time, and it’s a game that will be played in likely sub-zero temperatures, so the last thing we need is for the injury to flare up. Obviously, he had a run out against Middlesbrough behind closed doors this week, so I’m sure he wants to be on from the start, but we should be cautious.
Also, we’re coming off the back of two wins, so why change it?
Andrew Smithson says...
It’s ironic that Stewart was injured prior to a Monday night game and that he might make his return during another, as I think the neutrals watching would have expected us to struggle in the meantime.
However, the truth is that Sunderland have done pretty well under the circumstances, and it means his availability is now a bonus rather than a necessity, so there’s plenty of time for us to let him get back into the swing of things at his own pace.
I am really excited about having Stewart back, as he has performed at a consistently high level since becoming a first-team regular and he’s the type of striker I love watching the most.
He doesn’t give defenders a moment’s rest, and his ability to turn bad balls into something is huge for us. He’s taken to the Championship very well and his presence in the team will give us more variety to our attacking play.
News that he scored in a behind-closed-doors game against Middlesbrough is encouraging, and if Monday is to be his comeback game, I doubt West Brom will be looking forward to it at all.
Mark Roberts says...
We’ve missed the ‘Loch Ness Drogba’.
His drive, his threat upfront and his excellent support at the back during set plays have all been sorely missed, especially after a great start to the season that saw him contribute five goals and three assists in seven appearances.
The step up from League One was done in one giant stride for a player who has improved significantly in a short period of time. Stewart has gone from being Charlie Wyke’s understudy to his replacement and then his superior.
Would I start him on Monday? West Brom haven’t played a competitive game since the 12th of November, and if Stewart is fit enough for the bench, he’s fit enough to start.
Bring on three points and a Stewart hattrick!
Ian Bendelow says...
I’m very excited.
It was interesting to note the comments on Totalsport this week about Mowbray’s usual preference for one up top, so there’s no doubt that Stewart’s return will pose almost a bigger tactical rethink than when you lose a player.
My preference would be to have him on the bench, less for tactical reasons but more to ease him back in.
Let’s not forget it’s been over three months since he last played, and that will bring some rustiness only proper competitive football can shake off. The worst thing would be for him to overdo things early on and pick up another injury.
We shouldn’t worry about those who have done so well being somehow put out, or have their ability diminished by him coming back in.
Stewart can only make Amad, Patrick Roberts and Alex Pritchard better players by virtue of his defending from the front, and there’s no doubt the beneficiaries of this will be the attacking players around him.