DUNCAN WATMORE hopes his pre-season opportunities will fast-track his quest to become a Sunderland first-team regular.
Winger Watmore started for the second time in three friendly outings in last night’s 3-0 win at Hartlepool United, albeit it was again in an unfamiliar right-back role.
The 20-year-old, signed from non-league Altrincham last summer, is understood to have caught Gus Poyet’s eye since the Uruguayan’s appointment as Sunderland boss and boosted his first-team experience on loan at relegated Scottish Premiership outfit Hibernian during the second half of last season.
But level-headed Watmore realises he has to make every chance count in front of Poyet if he is to fulfil his objective of making the grade at the Stadium of Light.
Watmore told the Echo: “It’s a great experience and a great opportunity, and a platform to show my abilities and try to give the manager something to think about.
“I’m loving the experience at the moment and I’ll see how long it continues.
“I want to get to the very top and then hopefully if I keep impressing the manager here, he’ll give me chances and I’ll be able to show what I can do.
“You just have to wait for your opportunity and when it comes, take it as best you can.
“Hopefully, with a bit of luck, you never know.
“The ultimate goal is to become a regular first-team member. You’ve got to wait, but also never forget why you’re doing it.”
Watmore has impressed for the Sunderland Under-21s as a winger, yet has been shoehorned into a full-back role in pre-season due to a lack of alternative options.
But Watmore insists he is enjoying the challenge, particularly with his more experienced team-mates passing on their knowledge.
He said: “I think last Saturday was the first time I’d played right-back in my career and it was alongside John O’Shea. It’s not a bad mentor to have!
“You’ve just got to learn from these experienced players like (Lee) Cattermole and Seb (Larsson).
“All the first-team lads have been great. They want to make you a better player fundamentally.
“Their experience is phenomenal and you want to take that on board.
“I’m learning as I go along at full-back and I’m enjoying it.
“It’s a new experience, but I don’t mind it at all. If I’m playing, I don’t care where it is.”
While Sunderland were far brighter than they were at Carlisle 24 hours earlier, it was again Watmore’s colleagues from the U21 squad who took the plaudits in the final 30 minutes.
Poyet introduced an entire team of youngsters from the bench and they responded with three goals in eight minutes.
“We were pleased with the first 60 minutes,” added Watmore, who is yet to discover whether he will be included in Sunderland’s pre-season trip to Portugal.
“We created chances, although we didn’t quite finish them.
“Then the U21s came on and stole the show and rightly so because they were awesome.
“They deserve the credit they get because they work hard and it was great for them to get that experience.”