Che Adams could end up behind Ross Stewart in the pecking order at Southampton after the summer signing returned to full fitness.
Stewart to St. Mary’s on transfer deadline day in September, but is yet to make his debut for the Saints.
The striker suffered an Achilles tendon injury in January that will keep him out of action for most of 2023.
Stewart is close to returning and hopefully he can start playing for Russell Martin’s side soon.
But the Southampton boss will have a crucial decision to make regarding the sequencing of his current striker options, with Adams competing with Stewart and Adam Armstrong for minutes in the side.
Journalist Dean Jones expects Stewart to surpass his fellow Scotland international once he is fully fit again.
He criticized Adams’ recent performances, suggesting transfer speculation surrounding his future could cloud his ability to perform at his best.
“Obviously Adams played the majority of the game, but he had a disappointing performance [against Rotherham],” Jones said, via Give Me Sport.
“I think if he plays his best Southampton’s chances of promotion will increase significantly.
“He should be one of the most dangerous goalscorers in this league, without a doubt anything about that.
“But right now, yeah, it looks like he might end up below Stewart in the rankings once you start getting him back up to full speed.”
“So this is a challenge for him and he has to show whether he is ready to take it or not.
“I don’t know if transfer links necessarily factor into this or if it’s just form, but Che Adams certainly has to be among the top scorers in this league.
Adams has appeared nine times in 11 Championship matches this season.
The 27-year-old contributed 3 goals and 2 assists during this period, helping the team finish 10th in the rankings.
Stewart’s last appearance was at the FA. Last January’s cup match between Sunderland and Fulham.
The striker is set to return to action and could make his debut for Martin’s side after the end of the international break in October.
Southampton are aiming for promotion to the Premier League at the first try strength, and so they will be hoping that Stewart can play a big role for the team in pursuit of that goal.
Next for Martin’s team is a trip to MKM Stadium against Hull City on October 21.
Stewart’s impressive goalscoring output last season saw him score 10 goals in 13 league appearances.
Adams has struggled to come close to that record, with his consistency in front of goal proving a real problem for the south coast club.
Stewart will need some time to return to full fitness, with appearances from the bench likely to start his spell with the Saints.
Once he gets up to speed, however, it would be surprising if Adams remained ahead in every way.