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Roker Roundtable: In Ross Stewart’s absence, can Patrick Roberts step up for Sunderland?

The former Manchester City and Celtic attacker has not seen a lot of game time so far this season, but can he become a key player for Tony Mowbray in the games to come?

Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Gav says...

What Patrick Roberts can do and will do are, of course, very important here.

We all know what he can do because we’ve seen it with our own eyes, to a degree.

Some of his performances last season were excellent, particularly towards the end of the campaign, but they weren’t flawless.

I think that a player of his quality has to score more goals. That’s even more pertinent when you consider how long we’re going to lose Ross Stewart for - in the six weeks that he’s set to be absent, we need to replace a lot of his contributions at the attacking end of the pitch.

It would be insane to suggest that Roberts is the man to shoulder that responsibility, but I think that he has to do some of the leg work if he’s going to leave any sort of impression on the side in the long term.

There are a host of less experienced players - namely Jewison Bennette, Edouard Michut, Leon Dajaku and Abdoullah Ba - hoping that they too will get a chance in the side over the coming months, and whilst Roberts has the leg up on them, given his current status within the squad, he has to take that opportunity and smash it.

He has to show why Alex Neil was wrong to leave him out of the side that started the season; he has to show why the club placed so much faith in him when he was first signed, and he has to show why he’s got such a glowing reputation as a player who could potentially play in the Premier League if he can re-establish himself as a top player in this division.

I think he’s more than capable of filling (some of) the void left open due to Rossco’s injury, but talk is cheap and I hope that with a supportive head coach and fanbase behind him, he can finally realise his true potential and become the player he was always supposed to be, but in a Sunderland shirt.

Sunderland v Wycombe Wanderers - Sky Bet League One Play-Off Final Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Ewan Bowman says…

Roberts can play a big role in Ross Stewart’s absence.

On his day, he can be one of the most effective attacking midfielders in the Championship, and I just feel he needs to impact more matches, as he certainly has quality.

The problem with Roberts that has persisted throughout his career is his lack of consistency over a full campaign, and some would say that he has not fulfilled his potential. He has plenty of trickery, can deliver a good final ball and can glide past defenders with ease, but he just needs to do it more often.

Sunderland gave him an opportunity to shine in the Championship, and for both the club and Roberts himself, I hope he takes it with both hands.

If he shows the level of quality and consistency that he is capable of, he will no doubt be one of the first names on the team sheet in the weeks and months to come.

Sunderland v Rotherham United - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Sam Quigley says…

With Ross Stewart out, there is a large hole in our attack and one that Tony Mowbray will be surely looking to fill.

Roberts is certainly a player who can pick up the reins and take his place in the starting eleven until Stewart is back.

He has the talent, with many attributes that are a must for the Championship: pace, agility, and vision, but he seems to lack reliability and consistency. There are games where he will be a menace on the wing, and not giving opposing players a moment of rest, but there are other games where he is completely anonymous.

Given that he’s signed a new contract and has found a club willing to nurture his skills, now would be the perfect time to show Wearside what he’s capable of.

If not, there are other players on the bench that will be ready to make the position their own.

Sunderland v Queens Park Rangers - Sky Bet Championship - Stadium of Light Photo by Will Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images

Paddy Hayes says…

From what we saw of Roberts in the ten minutes prior to him being substituted against Middlesbrough, he’s certainly given us reason to be optimistic.

That being said, whether he’s playing directly next to Ellis Simms or just off him, he’s still out of position, and is much better suited to playing out wide or in the Alex Pritchard number ten role.

In all honesty, I think it’s going to be a case of the likes of Jack Clarke, Roberts, Pritchard, and some of the new kids all chipping in with a few goals in order to compensate for the loss of Stewart, and to help Simms find the net again.

Stewart is arguably a complete striker at this level and has already proved that within the first five games, so replacing him is going to be a tall order- both literally and figuratively. However, one attribute that Roberts has in abundance is his ability to take defenders on, and a real direct flair that Stewart certainly lacks.

Middlesbrough v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

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