Duncan Watmore will be a huge miss for Sunderland

Poor Duncan Watmore.

Monday, 5th December 2016, 1:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 11:53 am
Duncan Watmore goes down under a challenge from Leicesters Christian Fuchs to sustain his injury. Picture by Frank Reid

The 22-year-old puts together run of form for Sunderland when they most needed it most and what happens?

He suffered a badly-damaged knee in the dying minutes of Saturday’s 2-1 win over Leicester City, an injury boss David Moyes said “did not look great”.

Watmore’s sequence of excellent displays have not seen his name ‘up in lights’ as he has probably deserved.

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You can blame Victor Anichebe, Jermain Defoe and Jordan Pickford for that, not to mention us clowns in the media for sometimes failing to look beyond the headline acts.

But, without Watmore, Sunderland would not be where they are now – within touching distance of a place OUTSIDE the bottom three.

Cast your minds back a week or five and it all looked bleak for Watmore and Sunderland.

While he won the penalty which brought Sunderland level against Arsenal, albeit briefly, that flattered the England U21 star.

Almost everything he tried against the Gunners went awry, but a week later, at Bournemouth, he was a different man.

Against the Cherries, he delivered one of the crosses of the match – which none of his comrades got on the end of – had a ‘goal’ disallowed and played in big Vic for the match-winning-penalty.

At home to Hull, he should have won a penalty after being taken out by keeper David Marshall, but he had a hand in the goals for Defoe and Anichebe’.

He was a nuisance at Anfield where, sadly, he made a horlicks of Sunderland’s best opening, but his energy was so important in a marvellous team effort.

And he carried that on against Leicester. Used in a front three with Defoe and Anichebe, his positive get-at-’em approach had City floundering at times and he made another contribution for Moyes’s side, his blocked shot being tucked away by Defoe for the captain’s eighth goal of the season.

Sadly, just minutes later, he jarred his knee in an awkward fall after a challenge from Christian Fuchs and was stretchered off.

Sunderland do have a couple of candidates to replace him. Adnan Januzaj is no slouch, while Wahbi Khazri has that bit more guile than Dunc, but the Cats will miss that energy and enterprise Watmore has brought, not to mention his effectiveness deep in his own half. Get well soon, fella.

It is the same greeting we must send to Steven Pienaar.

Lady luck was not in his corner at the Stadium of Light either. He left the ground with a shiner after being clattered by Marc Albrighton.

It was not in the league of Toni Schumacher and Patrick Battiston (ask your dad if you were born post-82 World Cup), but it was a horrific collision. Pienaar somehow ‘climbed off the canvas’ but did not make it out for the second half after suffering from blurred vision.

Until then, the 34-year-old had produced his best display in a red and white jersey. Wherever the ball was, Pienaar was either on it, or not far away from it.

Unlike Watmore, Pienaar’s absence should be brief, but the luck was out for both men.