Midfielder desperate to repay Sunderland's faith and be a spark for Chris Coleman

His injury had rocked Chris Coleman before he'd even taken charge of his first training session.

Friday, 2nd March 2018, 6:00 am

Coleman has been waiting to turn on the Christmas lights in Newport, constantly texting assistant Kit Symons as Sunderland took on Millwall.

Symons, watching alonside Martin Bain in the stands, had news worse even than the two Millwall goals.

It was clear that both Duncan Watmore and Jonny Williams had suffered serious injuries before the half-time whistle, forcing Coleman to tear up his favoured XI and tactics straight away.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Watmore will return next season and be a pivotal figure whichever league Sunderland find themselves in.

Williams, meanwhile, will have a key role in determining whether that is the Championship or League One.

His goal against Middlesbrough showed the attributes he brings to the side, a superbly taken first time finish that caught Darren Randolph and his defence unawares.

There were also a number of positive forward runs, drawing one foul right on the edge of the area.

He is a player who Coleman says can bring a ‘spark’ to the team, one whose mistakes are invariably ‘positive’ ones. By which he means, borne out of being brave on the ball and trying to cut open a defence, rather than dithering in possession and hacking it away under pressure.

For Williams, he is desperate to repay that faith after yet another stop-start season.

The 24-year-old feels he is fit and somewhere near his best form.

“It has happened to me a couple of times,” Williams said.

“Managers have shown faith in me to perform like I did against Middlesbrough but the injuries have meant I’ve not been able to.

“I didn’t come here to be on the physios table and I want to be out there.

“I didn’t really know what to do with my celebration to be honest, it has been a while and there has been a lot of frustration.”

“I came here wanting to play as many games as possible and I was devastated to get that injury and miss a chunk of the season.

“I want to be playing every game from now until the end of the season. I felt I was close to my best. The physios have been brilliant and I feel great.

“Though I dislocated my shoulder last time we played against Millwall so we’ll see how it goes this weekend.”

Coleman has a big decision to make over the make up of his midfield for the trip to the Den on Saturday.

Paddy McNair is out injured with the Sunderland boss admitting that the Northern Irishman’s physicality and energy can ‘change your life’ in the Championship.

Ovie Ejaria is in contention to return alongside Williams, with the Liverpool trainee playing a full part in training at the Stadium of Light yesterday afternoon.