Sunderland ace Duncan Watmore to start against Notts County as James Fowler explains what he brings to side

Duncan Watmore in action against Middlesbrough U23s last week.
Duncan Watmore in action against Middlesbrough U23s last week.
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Duncan Watmore will start for Sunderland in their Checkatrade Trophy knockout clash with Notts County on Tuesday night.

The forward has been out for a year after suffering a second ACL knee injury but the 24-year-old will make his first team return at the Stadium of Light.

Watmore played just under an hour in an U23 defeat to Middlesbrough last Monday and will now step up his comeback against the League Two side.

Sunderland assistant manager James Fowler said: “Duncan is in the squad. He will start tomorrow, it is important for him to get some more game time, we will see how he feels at half-time and monitor from there.

“It is really good for him to be back involved in competitive action as well, it has been a long term process for him.

“It would be great for him to play at the stadium, with the crowd and in a competitive game.

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“Duncan is somebody that loves football and training. With the injury problems he has had for the last couple of seasons he is relishing being back involved.

“In terms of his attitude and his application to training, he is always bang on and he has that little bit more excitement given the hard work he has put in.

“He is desperate to be back out on the pitch.

“Duncan is one we can see as being a big player for us, but it is important we see the longer term picture as well.

“I know he was back pretty quick the last time and it was nothing to do with his injury recurring but it is important we look after him.

“He will definitely add to the squad and the first team when he is back. It is important we allow him the time that he needs that he is feeling 100 per cent physically and mentally.

“It is obviously a different tempo and expectation for league games than it maybe is for a Checkatrade Trophy game.”

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Watmore played 57 minutes as the U23s lost 3-1 to Middlesbrough last Monday, the forward missed a penalty but looked lively.

Reflecting on his performance, Fowler said: “He was really good and it was what we expected, as the start of the game we thought we needed to change his position to involve him a bit more but the game settled down and he did everything we expected he would.

“Hopefully with him being with a strong first team squad tomorrow some of the players will see his movement and runs and find him in areas we believe he will cause teams problems.

“We have given the sports science department a bit of stick as during his six months rehab he never worked on his penalties!

“But if he goes about his business like he has done the last three or four weeks then he can definitely get on the scoresheet tomorrow night.”