Duncan Watmore opens up on his League One return and a burning desire for promotion with Sunderland
Duncan Watmore has his eyes firmly fixed on securing promotion with Sunderland - and is determined to play his part.
The 24-year-old is set for a return to League One action this weekend, with manager Jack Ross confirming that Watmore is set to form part of his squad for the visit of Bristol Rovers this afternoon.
And while the attacker is relishing the step-up in his injury comeback, he has his eyes set on the longer term as he harbours an ambition to help the Black Cats earn promotion back to the second tier at the first time of asking.
Watmore has already enjoyed outings in the Checkatrade Trophy and FA Cup, coming through both fixtures unscathed, but acknowledges that - should he be involved agains the Pirates - then it will represent another big milestone in his recovery from two serious knee injuries.
He knows, however, that he will have to manage the intensity of league fixtures.
“Each one is kind of a step up in the right direction, because this [the FA Cup appearance against Walsall] was a step-up on the intensity of the Checkatrade and I’m sure the league will be a step-up on this,” he admitted.
“That’s just the way it goes and that’s why it’s worked out well in terms of the managing of the process.
“I’m fully aware that it’s going to be very intense and something that I’m going to have to manage.”
In the short-term, Watmore will be hopeful of helping Sunderland to bounce back from a rare defeat in midweek.
But the former Altrincham man has his eyes on a longer-term goal - helping the Black Cats to secure promotion back to the Championship.
And Watmore’s key goal for this season is to help contribute in whatever way he can as Ross’ side pursue an immediate return to the second tier.
For now though, he will relish the chance to be back in and around the match day environment having been deprived of the feeling for so long.
“It’s what we’ve worked so hard for, that match day moment in the league and helping the club,” Watmore added.
“Our ultimate aim is to get promoted and I’d love to contribute in the second half of the season to the lads doing that.”
It’s sometimes easy to forget that Watmore is among the longest-serving players at the Stadium of Light, having initially signed for the club in 2013.
And throughout the five years the former non-league hotshot has spent on Wearside, he has seen both the best and the worst of the Black Cats.
From the highs of survival under Sam Allardyce to the lows of back-to-back relegations, Watmore has experienced it all.
And he is now determined to play his part in delivering another high for the Black Cats’ faithful - having been ‘desperate for a return.
“I’ve experienced a lot of highs and lots of lows here,” he said.
“When we stayed up under Allardyce and the reaction then, that day that we won 3-0 against Everton, I’ve never seen the stadium like that in my life.
“Feelings like that are why you do this job and what makes us so lucky.
“Obviously this season the lads have been doing brilliantly and winning games and that’s something you’re desperate to be part of.
“I really want to contribute to that in the second half of the season and hopefully I can be involved in more and more of them.”