The Scotsman topped off an incredible season, from an individual standpoint, with a superb finish in the League One play-off semi final, giving the Black Cats a two-goal cushion in the closing exchanges of their victory over Wycombe Wanderers.
Alex Neil delivered his verdict on how the 26-year-old will adapt to the step up a division when he spoke to the Glasgow Evening Times.
He said: “It is a different level that we are going to be testing ourselves at (going into the Championship) but Ross did great for us last year and he will go into the season with real confidence based on how he did last season.
“I don’t think any of us have any concerns in that sense.
“But obviously the proof will be in the pudding and we will see how we go.”
There have been times in this transfer window when Black Cats supporters would have wondered if their talismanic striker would still be in place come the beginning of the season, but with just over two weeks to go now, Stewart is definitely poised to lead the line.
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It could become interesting in January or in the second half of the campaign, as Stewart enters the final year of his contract on Wearside this season, but the club have been operating in a sensible manner of late, and it would not be a surprise to see the Scotsman sign a long term contract with the Black Cats soon after the season kicks off.
Stewart will receive greater exposure to fight for a place in the Scottish national team this season coming, and that should spur him on to continue his upward trajectory, alongside a host of up and coming players in the North East.