Stewart played a major role in the club’s successful push for promotion in League One last season and will be keen to prove himself in the second-tier later this year.
As a result of these eye-catching displays, Stewart has unsurprisingly attracted interest from elsewhere.
According to a report from The Northern Echo earlier this year, Rangers are keeping tabs on Stewart’s situation at Sunderland.
Meanwhile, a separate report from The Mirror (26/05, page 62) has suggested that Middlesbrough are keen on a potential swoop for the Scotland international.
Stewart’s contract at Sunderland is set to expire next summer and thus teams may opt to test the club’s resolve by submitting bids in the coming weeks.
Making reference to the forward, Phillips has admitted that he believes that the Black Cats cannot afford to let Stewart move on to pastures new.
Speaking to Chronicle Live, Phillips said: “The big thing now is what financial support is going to be given to Alex [Neil].
“Can they nail down players like Ross Stewart?
“He has only got a year left and it is critical that they keep him.
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“Alex is certainly the right man for the job to move the club forward, but he needs the backing and the finances.
“I don’t think they need an awful lot, but obviously they will need some new players.”
Phillips’ comments regarding Stewart are spot-on as the Black Cats really cannot afford to let the forward seal a move to another club this summer.
Stewart made considerable strides in terms of his development last season and could potentially go on to produce a host of impressive displays in the Championship during the 2022/23 campaign if he stays at Sunderland.
In order to fend off interest from elsewhere, Sunderland ought to consider offering Stewart a lucrative long-term contract as soon as possible.
With Stewart in their side, there is no reason why the Black Cats cannot go on to achieve a relative amount of success in the second-tier later this year.