MANAGER Russell Martin has outlined his plans to continue building Ross Stewart's fitness after he made his first Saints appearance on Saturday.

The 27 year old, who joined from Sunderland on deadline day, made his long-awaited debut in Southampton's 2-1 win over West Brom.

Stewart had been named in the squad for the first time and replaced game-winner Adam Armstrong for the final seven minutes of regular time.

The two-time Scotland international was applauded by his teammates after the game, which was his first senior appearance since January 28.

Asked by the Echo about his plans for the forward over the international break, Martin revealed Stewart's need to continue building match fitness.

He said: “We have a practice match this week where he can get even more minutes in to prepare himself further.

"I thought he did great when he came on. I would have liked him to keep it in the corner for a little bit longer rather than decide to turn back,” Martin smiled.

READ MORE: 'Loch Ness Drogba', remarkable rise and recent injuries - who is Stewart?

"The lads applauded him in the dressing room after the game. The reaction from the crowd was great.

"It’s been a long road for him to get to this point and I’m really proud of him. He is such a brilliant lad.

“Now it’s our job to get him as fit and ready as possible, keep building up those minutes to get him into the team - which isn’t going to be easy for him at the moment. 

“He knows the challenge at hand and he is more than ready for it. I look forward to seeing him getting fitter and stronger.”

Stewart's first minutes since his injury came for Southampton's Under-21side in their 2-1 Premier League 2 defeat against Sunderland.

He put the young Saints side ahead on seven minutes before being withdrawn at half-time. Martin watched his PL2 cameo and was impressed by his goal.

Stewart, who is usually a striker, played to the right of fellow Scot Che Adams having been introduced to replace Armstrong, who was playing on the wing.

Asked about the decision to play the 6 ft 2ins forward in a wider position, Martin added: “We needed him on the pitch to defend set pieces for one.

“He also added energy and a target for us to hit if their press continued to be as aggressive as it was. I don’t see any reason why they can’t all be on the same pitch - Adam as well.

“It’s up to us to find a way to utilise them all as well as possible."

Stewart could make his first Saints start when they travel to Championship strugglers Huddersfield Town after the international break on Saturday, November 25.