ALEX NEIL is confident Ross Stewart will sign a new contract with Sunderland after holding face-to-face talks with the striker ahead of the new Championship season.

Stewart’s future has been the subject of considerable conjecture this summer, with Scottish Premier League side Rangers having been heavily linked with a potential move for the 26-year-old.

Stewart’s stock has risen significantly in the last 12 months, with his performances in League One last season, when he scored 26 goals in all competitions to help fire the Black Cats to promotion, having earned him a maiden senior international cap with Scotland.

Given that he entered the final year of his current contract on Wearside earlier this summer, there is clearly a pressing need for Sunderland to tie him down to a longer-term deal to remove the risk of him leaving the club for nothing in 12 months’ time.

The Northern Echo:

Talks between Stewart’s representatives and the Black Cats’ hierarchy are understood to have begun, and Neil is confident they will reach a successful conclusion.

“Naturally, when you’ve got good players that have done well, they deserve to be rewarded,” said the Black Cats head coach. “In terms of his contract, I’m pretty sure that something will get resolved.

“We’re eager for Ross to stay, so I don’t see there being any issue with that. Ross is happy, I spoke to him the other day, and he’s content with where he is. He’s just looking forward to the season.”