Jermain Defoe has tipped Duncan Watmore to be a match-winner for Sunderland – coming off the subs’ bench.
The experienced striker is a big fan of the promising youngster, who made his full debut in the 1-0 defeat to Southampton, and has tipped him for a big future.
But the 33-year-old believes Watmore can best transform games for the struggling Black Cats by coming on as an impact sub.
Watmore was one of four changes for the visit of the Saints, with Defoe among those dropped to the bench, as Sam Allardyce searches for the most effective team and system as the Wearsiders battle to beat the drop.
Defoe has revealed that the 21-year-old ex-Altrincham man, currently away with Gareth Southgate’s England Under-21 squad, impresses on a daily basis at the Academy of Light.
And he has likened Watmore to Spurs winger Andros Townsend – who has been linked with a January move to both Sunderland and Newcastle United.
“I think [it’s great] to have someone like that who can come on with so much pace and is so direct,” Defoe told the Echo.
“In the Premier League when the intensity is so high, players get fatigued towards the end of the game.
“To have someone like Duncan who can come on and help you win the game, is a great weapon to have.
“He’s a confident lad; a nice boy, and he’s done really well.
“He works hard in training and no defender wants to play against someone who every time he gets it is just going to drive forwards. It’s good for us to have someone like that.
“He reminds me a bit of Andros Townsend, who is so direct and, every time he gets the ball, will just drive forwards.
“You’ve got to play to your strengths. If that’s what you’re good at, then do it. He’s got great energy, he’s a young lad who wants to do well.
“During the course of the season, he is someone who can come on and help us win games.”
England Under-21s take on Bosnia-Herzegovina in Sarajevo this lunchtime (noon kick-off) in their Euro qualifying tie before a home game against Switzerland at Brighton’s Amex Stadium on Monday teatime.
Watmore’s current deal expires next summer and Sunderland are to hold talks to tie him down to a new deal, with the highly-rated prospect attracting interest from several Premier League and Championship clubs.
The lively forward, comfortable in midfield or up front, is keen to stay at the Stadium of Light though, having finally broken into the first team.
But Watmore will want assurances about continuing to be part of the first-team squad, even if it means developing his competitive experience with a loan spell in the Championship. And Sunderland would also need to hand Watmore a pay rise from the terms he agreed 14 months ago.