Marcus fires warning

IN-FORM hotshot Marcus Stewart last night warned his Sunderland team-mates that they need to stop the man he once tipped to play for England if they want to keep their title hopes alive.

By Derek Davis

IN-FORM hotshot Marcus Stewart last night warned his Sunderland team-mates that they need to stop the man he once tipped to play for England if they want to keep their title hopes alive.

Stewart had no doubt that Darren Bent was bound for the very top when he first spotted him coming through the Ipswich Town youth ranks four years ago, even predicting he would take his place in the Blues side, and he is just as convinced today.

He said: “I thought that Darren would go on and play for the full England team back then and nothing has changed my mind.


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“If Ipswich go up then Darren will play in the Premiership with them, if not then he will soon be playing in the Premiership anyway. He has that class about him where he is always a threat.

“I was watching him closely in the Wolves game and even though he only really got that one chance where he lobbed the keeper he was always dangerous.

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“He always makes a bad ball look good by getting between the defender and the keeper and being first.

“He is only 21 and has another 14 years left in the game, yet look at how many goals he has got already - and long may it continue.”

The former Bristol Rovers and Huddersfield striker believes Sunderland can take a leaf out of Wolves' tactical book in how to beat Town.

Mick McCarthy was at Molineux to see an off-colour Blues beaten 2-0 with Bent and Shefki Kuqi hardly getting a glimpse of goal.

Stewart said: “Jody Craddock and Joleon Lescott are good defenders and knew what they had to do. They stopped Benty, Kuqi and Tommy Miller and that is where most of Ipswich's goals come from. If you can take away that threat then you have a chance, although I can see plenty of goals on Sunday.

“Kuqi is a good ball winner and a danger and I know from playing alongside Scowie (James Scowcroft) how good he is, Jim (Magilton) can pick out a pass for Benty and they score a lot of goals.”

Stewart admits he and his team-mates were delighted to see Glenn Hoddle's side do them a favour, although he still hopes Town make it in the long run.

He said: “If they had won it would have taken things very close. We should have beaten Reading on Saturday but that gave Ipswich a good chance.

“Perhaps things got to them but we know by our own experiences that Wolves is a hard place to go - although we got a 1-1 draw there.

“This game was always going to be important for both teams but after their result on Monday it is probably paramount for Ipswich to get a result on Sunday, more so than for ourselves.

“I'm still hoping it is Ipswich that goes up with us, although when we have already gone up.

“If we can win the next two games then that is us up and I sincerely hope that Ipswich come up with us. They have so many good young players who deserve to be in the Premiership - Benty, Ian Westlake and Matt Richards.”

The Black Cats' striker is enjoying a rich vein of form himself, with eight of his 16 league goals this season coming in the past 13 matches, while Stephen Elliott has hit 14 goals.

He said: “We have not got quite as many as Benty and Shefki but I feel if I can get two goals in the remaining four games that will play a big part in us getting promoted.

“There is still a long way to go really and there could still be some twists and turns, but I feel if we can win two more games we will be safe.

“Everyone is under pressure but those beneath us will be feeling the pressure more. This game is as high as the pressure can get.”

Sunderland could be without keeper Thomas Myhre after he went off injured at half time in the home defeat by Reading.

The Norwegian suffered a back spasm but medical staff at the Stadium of Light are hopeful he will be fit for the trip to Portman Road and may even give him pain-killing injections to enable him to start.

Myhre's place on Saturday was taken by Northern Ireland keeper Michael Ingham but 18-year-old Ben Alnwick will be considered after missing that game due to a family bereavement.

Mart Poom is still injured and won't be considered.

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