Leeds United handed Southampton danger man warning despite injury uncertainty

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Ross Stewart has missed almost the entire season at Southampton through injury

Southampton legend Franny Benali is tipping forward Ross Stewart to make a decisive impact against Leeds United this weekend. The Saints take on the Whites in the Championship play-off final with the winner at Wembley occupying the final spot in next season's Premier League line-up.

Promotion was the aim both sides had this season following their relegation from the top flight last year, but after missing out on the top two, only one will be able to reach their goal on Sunday with the other being resigned to another season of second tier football. Benali, who made 331 league appearances for Southampton during his career, is hoping his former side get the job done on Sunday afternoon.

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However, the 55-year-old also tipping Stewart to step off the bench and write his name into St Mary's folklore, if he's fit that is. Stewart, who made the £10 million switch from Sunderland last summer, has seen injuries restrict him to making just four appearances this season.

The striker returned to fitness in time to come off the bench against Leeds on the final day of the regular campaign and he came close to scoring in his 18 minutes on the field against West Brom at The Hawthorns. However, he watched the entirety of the play-off semi-final second leg against the Baggies from the bench, with Russell Martin not wanting to risk the Scot after seeing him take 'a whack' in training.

Martin was quick to outline his belief that Stewart will be fit for the final, though, along with Che Adams and that gives Benali confidence. He said: “I can’t help but feel that Ross Stewart is going to have some kind of say in this final game in Saints’ push for promotion.

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“He’s been out with an injury virtually all season, he’s had a handful of appearances as a substitute, four appearances as a sub I think. With the uncertainty of Che Adams and whether he’s going to be fit or not I can see Ross Stewart – I haven’t quite dreamt it – but I can see him coming on in the final minute and maybe scoring a goal, his first goal for Saints in limited minutes that could be the biggest goal, probably, in the club’s history.”

Adams has been struggling a calf injury, picked up in the second half of Southampton's win over Leeds earlier this month. He missed both of the Saints' semi-final games as a result but the Saints boss said last week that he expected him to be ready to play some part at the national stadium.

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