Ross Stewart: Why Rangers are keen on Sunderland striker - ex-Celtic youth, 22 goals, contract situation

On Wednesday, reports emerged of Rangers having an interest in former Albion Rovers and Ross County striker Ross Stewart.

The 25-year-old has been in excellent form for Sunderland, hitting 22 goals in 41 league games for the club.

It is form which has caught the attention of clubs down south as well, with Norwich City and Swansea two to be credited with an interest.

Why would Rangers want him?

Ross Stewart has been in great form for Sunderland this season. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)

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Simple. Goals. He has had good spells before in front of goal, both at Alloa Athletic and Ross County. But nothing has come close to what he has produced at Sunderland.

Joining in January 2021 allowed him to settle into life in England for that first half season. He has exploded this campaign, playing mainly as a central striker, it has allowed him to play on the last man, working between the width of the box, while having a hand in the build-up play.

It is notable a lot of his goals have been first-time finishes, moving away from defenders, whether he has netted with a foot or head.

Looking at him, he is a very rangy striker, who just looks all limbs but he is a very awkward customer. He can play with his back to goal, hold the ball up, he’s got a good leap and when he stretches his long legs he is very quick and eats up ground, ideal for passes in behind.

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Stewart's performances were rewarded with a Scotland call-up. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

That said, he can play wide and deeper as he did for Ross County. Working the flank diligently, he has an excellent work ethic and can be that goal threat, especially from diagonals, when playing a wide left role.

Career trajectory

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Ross Stewart is the 25-year-old's career.

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He counts Celtic and St Mirren amongst clubs in his youth career but he had to drop down to play for Ardeer Thistle and Kilwinning Rangers. From there he worked his way up the SPFL, first with Albion Rovers before finding a place to flourish at Ross County, earning him a move to Sunderland and a call-up to the Scotland national team.

Contract situation

When Sunderland signed Stewart from Ross County he signed a two-and-a-half-year deal, his contract running until 2023.

The Black Cats' boss Alex Neil was recently asked about an extension to his striker’s deal due to his form and the likelihood he would be attracting interest from clubs further up the league.

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“The simple fact is that he’s our contracted player," Neil said. “He’s done well, but he’s done well because he’s been given a chance at this club. I’m sure he’ll be respectful of that as well.

“But I’m not going into the remaining games worrying that if I don’t win them, or we don’t win them, then Ross might see his future elsewhere. I don’t think about that with any of the players, it doesn’t even cross my mind at the moment.”

Why Stewart may look to leave

Sunerland are currently sitting sixth in League One, the final play-off place which is their best route to the Championship. They have the same points and goal difference as seventh-place Wycombe Wanderers.

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However, if the club fail to win promotion it will be the fifth season in a row of third tier football. Stewart may view the next level in his progression being the Championship or European experience with Rangers.

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