After such a promising start to the season, things have started to move in the wrong direction for Sunderland again in the past few weeks.
The Black Cats have now suffered defeat in each of their last three League One games, while also being knocked out of the FA Cup at the first round stage by League Two Mansfield Town earlier this month.
That run has seen Lee Johnson’s side drop below the play-off places in the third-tier standings, and may have prompted some concerns that the inconsistencies that cost the club last season still remain.
There is of course, plenty of time for Sunderland to change that, and with the January transfer window moving into view, it is hard not to feel that now would be the perfect time to do that.
Not only would that ensure that the Black Cats are not cut adrift from the automatic promotion race and left to face the play-offs once again, but it would go some way to easing any pressure they might have when it comes to retaining key players during the mid-season market.
If Sunderland are unable to turn that form around, and potentially left facing another season of disappointment in the promotion race, then teams further up the pyramid may well fancy their chances of looking to prise certain individuals away from the Stadium of Light.
One such individual who would likely be an appealing prospect for rival clubs, and whose departure would undoubtedly represent a major blow for Sunderland, is Ross Stewart.
Having stepped into lead the line for the Black Cats this season following the departure of Charlie Wyke in the summer, Stewart has emerged as a key player at the Stadium of Light.
The 25-year-old has already scored ten goals in 15 league games this season, showing he is more than capable of filling the centre forward void left by Wyke for Sunderland.
It is that sort of form for a promotion chasing side that should start to attract interest in Stewart from elsewhere, and if Sunderland cannot start to produce the sort of form that convinces the striker he can move forward in his career at The Stadium of Light, he too might to start to think about a move to pastures new.
Not only would that see Sunderland lose the services of a key man, but given no other player in their squad has scored more than three league goals since the start of the campaign, it could also leave them facing something of a struggle in front of goal.
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There is also the issue that Stewart will soon be entering the final year of his contract at the Stadium of Light, meaning that unless they are able to secure a new deal for the striker, any bids that come in next year, could bring some considerable pressure with them.
In the wake of the situation Sunderland found themselves in with Wyke last season, that is something they will no doubt be keen to avoid, and an improvement in form to show Stewart this club is still moving in the right direction, is one of the best things they can do to give them a chance of securing such a deal.
With that in mind, it seems that turning rectifying Sunderland’s recent sooner rather than later, could be crucial for Lee Johnson, with regards to more than just his own future with the club.