Stewart - no regrets about leaving Town

AS much as it hurt to leave at the time, Marcus Stewart has no regrets at leaving Ipswich Town for tonight's opponents Sunderland, writes Derek Davis.The prolific striker sees a lot of the Blues in the Black Cats and firmly believes he will be back in the big league next season just as he won promotion with Ipswich.

AS much as it hurt to leave at the time, Marcus Stewart has no regrets at leaving Ipswich Town for tonight's opponents Sunderland, writes Derek Davis.

The prolific striker sees a lot of the Blues in the Black Cats and firmly believes he will be back in the big league next season just as he won promotion with Ipswich.

Speaking ahead of tonight's Nationwide League Division One clash, which could see Sunderland jump to third place, Stewart said: "There is no doubt about it, there are definitely similarities between the side we have at Sunderland now and the one I was involved in at Ipswich when we were promoted to the Premiership.

"They are both footballing sides and the longer we're together the more we are matching that Ipswich side in terms of teamwork and the ability to know what other players are going to do because of the understanding between us.


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"Both also have the right blend of youth and experience, although the team here at Sunderland is probably younger. I loved playing in that Ipswich team and I'm enjoying playing in this one."

Just as Ipswich found, beating the so called lesser teams has proved difficult for Sunderland this season and Stewart wonders if his team-mates can adapt after life in the Premiership.

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He said: "There are a lot of tests ahead for this side though. We've done pretty well so far, but will we still be able to play nice football when it is cold and wet?

"Will we be able to cope with the physical side of the Nationwide League? Teams will try and bully us in this division, intimidate us physically.

"It has already happened at Stoke and we lost the game. We've got make sure that teams cannot bully us because if they do we will not be able to play.

"I've played five or six years of football in this division so I've got a good idea of what goes on and what is needed to get out of it. The younger lads don't yet and it is how they learn that will be important.

"If you look at Sheffield United they have got that extra year's experience on us, their young players have learnt to deal with the physical side of things.

"If we combat that and learn about the other side of the game quickly, the football will look after itself because we've got a fantastic football side. It is something we had to learn to do at Ipswich as well."

Stewart was signed by George Burley from Huddersfield, who beat Sunderland 4-2 in the Carling Cup last week, and the Yorkshire side have drifted down to Division Three since then.

The Bristol-born striker hit 37 goals in his 93 Town appearances with his best run of form coming in their first Premiership season, 2000-01, when only Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink hit more top-flight goals.

He said: "My confidence is high, as high as it was when I was scoring all those goals at Ipswich. I have very happy memories of my time there, it was a fantastic team, we all knew each other's games and we worked hard together.

"I've scored four goals in seven league games this season and I've created a few as well.

"I'm happy with the way things are going, but I'm not setting myself any goal targets as such. I just want to score a goal every other game I'm involved in if I can. I enjoy making goals as much as scoring them and since I've come into the side this season I've been doing both."

Peter Reid stepped in to buy Stewart on the eve of the transfer deadline in August last year and the striker barely had time to nip to the ground to pick up his boots before making the £1.5m move to Wearside.

He said: "I had mixed feelings about leaving because my time there was probably the happiest I've had in football, but perhaps it was time to leave when I did.

"I wanted to get back into the Premiership and Sunderland offered me that. I also like to think that I helped Ipswich out financially as well as they needed to sell players back then."

More than 1,000 Town fans are expected to make the long trip north and there is little doubt they will perform a rendition of "Walking in a Stewart Wonderland."

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