Analysis - Does Duncan Watmore merit a Sunderland start against Swansea?

Duncan Watmore scores his goal for Sunderland against Norwich. Picture by FRANK REID

Duncan Watmore scores his goal for Sunderland against Norwich. Picture by FRANK REID

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Not many rookies can have been afforded such a warm reception prior to their Premier League debut as Duncan Watmore.

The loudest cheer of the afternoon accompanied Watmore’s introduction against Norwich City last weekend, prior to the 21-year-old outshining the vast majority of his senior colleagues.

Common sense suggests Watmore should not be thrown in the deep end as the answer to Wearside’s prayers

That ovation was partly due to circumstances - supporters were desperate to see something fresh, rather than the same old, stale struggles.

But there was also an element of ‘at last’ on the terraces after Watmore spent the vast majority of last season on the verges of the first-team, without being given the chance to see if he could replicate his form from the Under-21s.

Watmore is understood to be one of those who doesn’t necessarily produce his best form on the training ground, yet come match day...

There was a reason why he was voted U21 Premier League Player of the Year last season, before being called into the England Under-20 squad for the summer’s Toulon tournament.

But while Watmore’s top flight bow last weekend was a last throw of a dice from Dick Advocaat, does his performance merit more serious consideration for a starting spot against Swansea tomorrow in Sunderland’s bid to notch their first points?

Common sense suggests Watmore should not be thrown in the deep end as the answer to Wearside’s prayers, when the scenario of starting in the Premier League presents a very different challenge to coming off the bench when the game has become stretched.

Yet Advocaat is not blessed with a lot of options, when he clearly wants to persist with a 4-3-3 set-up.

The replacement of the injured Adam Johnson with Steven Fletcher last Saturday was a half-way house and while it gave Jermain Defoe some support, Sunderland had a lopsided shape. Watmore would at least provide some balance to the side.

But it is the balance of the back-line which will have consumed more of Advocaat’s grey cells this week.

During Sunderland’s team meeting last weekend, Advocaat made a point of stressing that unless the Black Cats can rediscover some defensive stability, than they have no chance of winning games.

While Advocaat wanted to give his back four a chance to redeem themselves against Norwich, surely John O’Shea must come into the frame this weekend for his organisational ability.

O’Shea isn’t going to be a match for Swansea speedster Jefferson Montero – who along with fellow winger Andre Ayew have the potential to torture the hosts – but at least Sunderland might produce a hint of cohesion with the captain back in the frame.

In fact, Sunderland just need a hint of something that’s not doom and gloom.

Swansea will rightly be firm favourites to inflict a third successive defeat on Sunderland, but Advocaat’s side must produce if a performance, even if they can’t get a positive result.