Duncan Watmore is taking inspiration from Paddy McNair’s superb form and ‘big impact’ for Sunderland ahead of the crunch Burton Albion clash.
Sunderland, who could be relegated this weekend, are scrapping for their Championship lives, six points adrift with three games left.
There has been a recent upturn in performances - with McNair at the heart of it - but throwing away leads in the last three games leaves them on the brink of League One football.
McNair’s form has, though, been a positive with Chris Coleman looking to build next year’s team around the midfielder - provided the club can keep hold of him, with interest likely to be high should Sunderland go down.
Watmore and McNair spent months together having suffered cruciate knee ligament injuries last season, Watmore then suffering a second just six games into his comeback.
“When we were both injured, we both wanted to get back and be as strong as we can because we both felt we could make a strong impact,” said Watmore.
“Unfortunately for me, it didn’t happen, and while Paddy has also had a couple of niggly injuries, he is now he is fully fit and you can see he is a fantastic player and he has a big impact on the team.
“With injuries like this, it takes a while to get back to that level but you are now starting to see that Paddy is back up there.
“He deserves it because he is a great guy and he works very hard.
“I think we’ve got a really good group here in the dressing room, with a lot of young lads. That’s why it is so hard to explain the season we are having.
“We’re working hard, but for whatever reason it is just not working. But I am excited to get back and play with the lads who are here because I know we can put in good performances.”
Watmore injured his knee for the second time against Millwall in November, the day before Chris Coleman was appointed.
On Coleman, Watmore said: “He’s been great around the place, he is always positive, and the lads enjoy training.
“I haven’t had any training contact with him yet, but in terms of just being around the place he has been great with me, checking how I am doing and what have you. He just seems like a really good guy.
“[The timing of the injury] was so frustrating for so many reasons – the work I had put in initially, how I was starting to feel – to feel it go again was so frustrating.
“Then a day or so after the new manager came in, so the timing could hardly have been worse.
“But I had to accept it, I did that quite quickly, and now I am just focused on my rehab so I can get back to playing for Sunderland.”