George Honeyman has tipped close friend Duncan Watmore to be a big hit in the Championship after making his return from injury.
Watmore made his first appearance for the Black Cats in nine months in the 2-2 draw with Preston North End - causing the home defence problems with his pace, energy and direct running.
Honeyman, who scored the opening goal at Deepdale, believes Watmore can cause havoc at this level.
Without heaping too much pressure on the 23-year-old, Sunderland could do with Watmore making a big impact after the international break with Simon Grayson’s side sitting second bottom in the Championship.
Honeyman says it is testament to the club’s medical department to see Watmore impress in his first appearance since suffering cruciate knee ligament damage last December.
Honeyman said: “I think he’s going to reap the benefits of this league because it’s frantic, there’s a lot of space in behind and that’s perfect for Duncan to be in.
“The more match-fit he is and the more he’s playing it’s only going to be positive for us.
“I’ve seen how hard he’s worked in the gym with Binners [physio David Binningsley] and Paddy [McNair].
“Duncan’s a really good friend of mine and just seeing him back on the pitch gives you a big lift.
“It’s testimony to how hard he’s worked and how good the rehab is that he’s come back flying straight away.”
Injuries to key players have hampered Sunderland in recent weeks but the bench was far stronger at Deepdale with Watmore, Lamine Kone, Bryan Oviedo and Callum McManaman among Grayson’s options.
Honeyman added: “The amount of games there are and the amount there’s been already sometimes you need to freshen things up and I think that will benefit us going forwards because if you look at the bench on Saturday we have got strength in depth, especially with players like Duncan coming back.”