Is Duncan Watmore better as a substitute or starter for Sunderland?

Duncan Watmore. Picture by FRANK REID
Duncan Watmore. Picture by FRANK REID
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The emergence of Duncan Watmore on the Premier League scene has been one of the few bright-spots for Sunderland in another disappointing season.

With an economics degree behind him, Watmore hasn’t followed the usual path of a professional footballer, but he’s got the potential to have a huge career in the game.

He’s also just signed a new four-year contract and with the financial rewards for young footballers now, his future looks bright.

I read Jermain Defoe saying that he reminds him of Andros Townsend and Gareth Bale at a similar age, and that’s massive praise from someone whose been around and knows what he’s talking about.

Watmore seems a genuinely down to earth lad and he pleased the fans when he said he wanted to sign his contract for Sunderland because it was a great club. In turn, supporters have taken to the hard-working youngster.

Big Sam has quickly identified him as a young talent that he can bring through and develop, and he’s also had England Under-21 boss Gareth Southgate singing his praises.

The big debate at this stage of his development is whether he’s best used from the start or bringing him on as a substitute when defences are tiring and the last thing they want is a live-wire like Watmore unleashed on them.

There is a case to be made that the shorter the game, the bigger impact he has, but every player would prefer to start and Duncan will be no different.

I think Big Sam will use him in both roles; picking him for some games and then giving him a breather by using him from the bench in others.

Watmore will be learning in every game he plays now though and each minute he’s on the pitch, adds to his experience.

But he’s intelligent enough to know that he hasn’t made it yet and has more to do if he’s to fulfil his obvious potential.