SAINTS boss Russell Martin suggested striker Ross Stewart is "more ready to start" after a lively cameo at West Brom.

The 27 year old came on in the 71st minute of the 0-0 draw at The Hawthorns, in the first leg of the Championship playoff semi-finals.

He almost scored with his first shot for the club but the deflected effort was brilliantly saved by Baggies goalkeeper Alex Palmer. 

Stewart was making only his fourth appearance of the season, having signed with an injury and later suffering a hamstring setback.

Martin said: "Ross Stewart's energy, enthusiasm, aggression and physical presence is all the stuff I've said about Che Adams.

Daily Echo: Former Sunderland striker Ross Stewart signed for Saints last summerFormer Sunderland striker Ross Stewart signed for Saints last summer (Image: Matt Watson / SFC)

"That half an hour for him will be so important in the next step for him, so he's more ready to start a game for sure.

"We need to make sure we win on Friday to give him another opportunity to be ready for another game, that's the job at hand."

Martin continued: "I think he also has an enthusiasm for the game that is really beautiful to see.

"He's had a tough journey to be here. He's had a tough time since he's been here, and now he has just desperation and enthusiasm to help us.

"I love that about him. That's why we were so keen to sign him in the first place," he added of the former Sunderland man. 

"I believe, I've said to you so many times, that over a long period, he's going to be a really brilliant signing for the club.

"He can also be a really brilliant signing for the club now and be really important for us on Friday night." 

Stewart will be in line to make a fifth appearance for the club when Saints host West Brom in the second leg on Friday, May 17.