Duncan Watmore is happy to take every minute of competitive action he can get, rather than immediately setting his sights on a spot in Sunderland’s starting XI.
Watmore had to wait more than 18 months for a second first-team appearance in a red and white shirt, despite being voted Premier League Under-21 Player of the Year last season.
I want to work hard in training and see what chances I get.
But after finally being given his chance by Dick Advocaat against Norwich a fortnight ago, Watmore has grasped his opportunity in emphatic fashion after netting twice in three successive substitute’s outings - the latest coming in Tuesday night’s Capital One Cup victory over Exeter City.
Watmore’s hunger and willingness to take on opposition defenders has immediately endeared him to the Stadium of Light crowd, and demonstrated that he is not out of place at first-team level.
Yet he is likely to remain on the bench for Saturday’s trip to Aston Villa, with Watmore keen to simply maximise any opportunity that comes his way.
Watmore told the Echo: “I’ve got to take it step-by-step, I’m not going to get ahead of myself.
“It’s such a high standard and the players I’m playing with are so good, that I’m just enjoying it and trying to play as many minutes as I can.
“I wouldn’t say there’s any aim in particular to start this game or start that.
“I’m just trying to build on my performances and when I get a chance, take it.
“I want to work hard in training and see what chances I get.
“I’m very grateful for the manager for that opportunity because in the past three games, I’ve come on and I’m really enjoying it.
“I don’t want it to stop. I want to keep building on it, get more chances and the only way I’m going to do that is keep playing well and keep training hard.”
Watmore’s goal against Exeter spoke volumes for the ex-Altrincham man’s attitude after refusing to give up on what appeared to be a lost cause.
And despite Sunderland’s defensive problems against the League Two outfit, Watmore was not the only member of the U21 squad to impress either, with forward Lynden Gooch making his senior debut.
“I scored a couple of goals like that recently when it seems like I wasn’t going to get there,” said Watmore.
“Sometimes, if you don’t give up and you get that bit of luck, you get away with it.
“Fortunately, I was able to get a goal.
“From an attacking perspective, we created chances and six goals at home is what you want.
“Goochy has played really for the U21s with three in three, and he’s deserved his call-up.
“I thought he did really well when he came on and together we both enjoyed it.”
A positive month for Watmore has been capped by a maiden call-up to the England Under-21 squad for next month’s games against Norway and the USA.
“I was really happy with that and very grateful for that opportunity,” added the forward, who impressed for England U20s during the summer’s Toulon tournament.
“I got a text through the FA and then they got in touch with me.
“Hopefully I can take my chance.”