Duncan Watmore reflects on his Sunderland comeback so far and praises 'incredible' supporters

The roar when he came on was load enough.

Friday, 28th December 2018, 08:46 am
Updated Tuesday, 8th January 2019, 21:00 pm
Duncan Watmore impressed in a short cameo against Bradford City

Then Duncan Watmore gathered the ball near his own box and took off.

He went past one, two Bradford players, carrying the ball at least 100 yards up the pitch.

The striker was eventually hauled down but was greeted with a thunderous ovation from the Stadium of Light.

Not long after, he won another priceless free kick high up the pitch.

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They were crucial interventions and the crowd recognised it.

Watmore was always a popular player and after a long time on the sidelines, everyone was keen to show their appreciation.

It didn't go unnoticed.

"Those moments, that's what you play football for," Watmore said.

"I enjoy football most when I'm running at players, driving down the pitch with space to attack.

"I had the chance to do that today and the reaction from the fans, it really does lift you. Because even just 10 minutes, you do feel tired after so long out, so it gives you that second wind.

"30 years ago I wouldn't be playing football with the injuries I've had. I feel very lucky, with the care that I've had from the club and everyone around me.

"Everything is almost like a bonus now, 30 years ago I wouldn't be playing. I've got to keep reminding myself of that and enjoying it, which I am doing."

The 25-year-old's return isn't just a feel-good story, either.

His pace and direct style offers a different dimension to Jack Ross's attack and one that can make a big difference in the coming weeks.

"I feel like at this moment in time, I probably don't have the match fitness and sharpness to maintain that from the start," Watmore said.

"That's something I'm going to have to get used to and when the manager wants me to start that's a challenge I'll have to overcome. At the moment I feel like I can have a really positive impact coming off the bench and I really enjoyed being out there."

Watmore's cameo was one of the big positives from an excellent Boxing Day for Sunderland.

The return of Charlie Wyke is another.

It was Wyke who set Watmore away for one of those surges and he can already see a potential partnership forming.

"I enjoy playing with him, even just in training," Watmore said.

"From what I've seen of him he looks a really good player and I just said to him there, as soon as he goes up in the air I'm thinking, 'get on the end of this'.

"I'm looking forward to playing with him."

Watmore has had to watch on from the sidelines while Sunderland dropped into League One but it is a very different place now.

Disappointment from the defeat to Portsmouth was quickly banished as Sunderland swiftly cut the gap to the top.

"From my perspective, it's obvious to say but the red card at Portsmouth completely changed the dynamics," Watmore said.

"It was extremely frustrating but it is a long season and we've responded with three points on Boxing Day.

"And I've got to mention the fans, 46,000. It's incredible, testament to them and this club. From all the players, thanks so much.

"You can use that energy from them on the pitch. The positivity around, it was so good for us.

"I just think everyone has that positive vibe. The new owners, coaches, staff, fans, there's just a really good vibe about the place.

"I just think there's so much positivity, people are talking about Sunderland in a positive light which is really nice and I'm really happy to be part of that."