Russell Martin Cautious About Possible Ross Stewart Debut Against West Brom
Monday, 6th Nov 2023 13:22
Having come through his first game back after his long term injury without any negative reactions, the question is whether Ross Stewart will be in line for his long awaited appearance in a first team jersey when West Bromwich Albion visit on Saturday.
Russell Martin has been talking about Ross Stewart and his progress, hampshirelive have been quoting that the Saints manager is asking Southampton supporters to not expect too much too soon from the striker.
“Firstly, it is a huge moment for him as a person because he has been out for a long time and anyone can see how hard he has worked since he has been here
“I have no doubt that he had the same mentality when he was at Sunderland to try and get fit. He has had a couple of setbacks along the way which is to be expected with such a long-term injury.
"For him as a lad and a person, I am really delighted. Selfishly for us as a group of coaches and a squad, it is a brilliant moment for us because he is going to contribute a lot. I don’t think we should expect too much too soon from him. He has been out a long while.”
But clearly Martin is eying him for a place in the squad at the weekend after his goal against his old club Sunderland for the U21 side.
“It is a goal that is typical of him. He runs to the box, attacks it and it is a great finish. I am sure that will get supporters excited and expecting a lot. I think we have to be patient. It will be really nice to get him back before the international break. Hopefully, now he has a good week training with us and we can include him in the squad next week.”
So from these comments it is clear that Russell Martin wants to get Stewart involved against the Baggies, but he has to be cautious on two fronts, first the player's fitness levels and secondly the mental side of things.
It is important not to push either too fast, physically Stewart has been training and now has got game time under his belt, but the rigours of a Championship match is a lot different from either the training pitch or a U21 game.
It is also going to be a mental task, Stewart himself has to push through that barrier, getting hit by his first hard tackle and getting up from it, getting his first chances on goal and finding his touch again and if he doesn't being confident enough to try again, strikers usually score in bursts.
Having said that few Saints fans have actually seen him play, when Tall Paul Onauchu arrived at the club the supporters were behind him and looking forward to seeing him play, that changed in a few weeks as he had few chances and scored none of them, he soon went from being the saviour to being part of the problem and the fans were on his back.
Russell Martin will not want that for Ross Stewart, especially since he is coming back from the long term injury, the goal for the U21's has raised supporters hopes for the player, but the manager will not want that to be a burden.
So I would suspect that Ross Stewart will be on the bench on Saturday, the aim will be to give him a late run out, let him get some confidence back and hopefully without too much riding on the game by then, having said that and with our reputation for late goals, if we need to try and find a goal in the last few minutes it will be a big boost to see a striker of Stewart's quality on hand to bring on.
Photo: Action Images
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