Martin hopeful on Adams's fitness and Stewart's starting prospects

2023-24/Matchdays/202040512 West Brom vs Southampton - Play-off SF/MW_WBA_Southampton_Playoffs_119_rqa1b7

Russell Martin described Ross Stewart’s 20-minute cameo at The Hawthorns as a “big step” in the striker’s rehabilitation, and believes the Scot has a “really important” role to play in the rest of Southampton’s play-off campaign.

Stewart was introduced in the 72nd minute of the semi-final first leg with West Brom, and came close to making the breakthrough when his deflected 20-yard shot drew a sharp save from goalkeeper Alex Palmer.

The manager hinted Stewart could be in contention to start the second leg, and also hopes to have Ché Adams available after the 18-goal marksman missed the trip to the Black Country with injury.

“I think that will be big for us – it’ll be big for Ross in his step to getting on the pitch from the start,” Martin said.

“Ché was a big loss today. He’s been one of our best players in the last four or five weeks – he’s played with freedom, energy, strength to get the team up the pitch, looks an absolute goal threat, so to lose him today was tough.

“Hopefully he’ll be back for us on Friday – we’re all very positive about that and hopeful, and to get Rossco (Stewart) back as well is really nice.

“We have some selection problems, which is nice, but for Ross and his journey – he nearly scored, I thought that was going to be his moment.

“He’s going to be really important for us over the next 90 minutes of football, however long he plays – whether he starts, whether he doesn’t, and then hopefully if we do our job the one after that as well.”