Sunderland's Duncan Watmore reveals key to avoiding another season-long battle against relegation

Duncan Watmore celebrates with his Sunderland teammates

Duncan Watmore celebrates with his Sunderland teammates

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It took Sunderland until October 25 to win their first Premier League game of last season.

The 3-0 win over Newcastle United was Sam Allardyce's first home game in charge after taking charge from Dick Advocaat.

That shocking start, which had seen the Black Cats pick up just three points in the opening nine games was the main factor behind the season-long battle against the drop.

Slowly but surely Allardyce and his squad managed to turn their fortunes around, with survival secured in the penultimate match.

Duncan Watmore, though, is desperate to help avoid another nerve-shredding season and he knows starting better under new boss David Moyes will be key.

"There are a lot of positives around the camp at the moment but we know we have to start well," Watmore told the Echo.

"The past few seasons the start hasn't been good enough, we need to improve on that and not put ourselves in the position that we have been in.

"We want to put that right, by working hard and making sure we earn those wins.

"Starting the season well is key. We haven't done that in the past few seasons."

Watmore established himself as a first team regular last season under Allardyce, the 22-year-old a shining example for the next batch of up and coming youngsters.

Ethan Robson, Tommy Robson, Josh Robson, Lynden Gooch, Rees Greenwood and Joel Asoro are among the Under-23 players to have featured heavily during pre-season.

"It is really good to see the younger lads getting a good run in the side," added Watmore.

"I enjoyed playing with them, I have played a lot with them at Under-21 level and it is good to see them make the progression and not look out of place.

"We are just trying to keep the running streak of pre-season going, it is good momentum to have and hopefully we can do that."

Watmore has been on a winning streak all summer having been a member of the England Under-21 squad that won the Toulon Tournament for the first time in 22 years.

"Winning tournaments is something that I have never experienced personally," added Watmore.

"For me and Pickers [Jordan Pickford] to be in that squad was a really good way to end the year after staying up with Sunderland.

"In the end it was a really good season for me personally and I am now looking forward to the qualifying process to get to Poland with the Under-21s."