With a first-class honours degree in his back pocket, hot prospect Duncan Watmore is no ordinary Premier League footballer.
But it is the harsh lessons being learned on the pitch for struggling Sunderland that currently occupy the 21-year-old’s thoughts.
Watmore – enjoying his first season in the top flight – is relishing the challenge, though, as he looks to continue his footballing education.
Sunderland find themselves deep in relegation trouble, five defeats on the spin have left the Black Cats seven points from safety at the halfway stage of the Premier League campaign.
The 1-0 midweek defeat to Liverpool is the latest ahead of tomorrow’s huge relegation scrap with basement side Aston Villa at the Stadium of Light.
Watmore admits the 2015-16 campaign has been a steep learning curve.
“This season has taught me an awful lot,” Watmore told the Echo.
“It is a new experience and I have to learn from it and keep playing my game.
“And try to play as well as I can.
“This is my first season. There is so much to learn, and I am trying to take it all in my stride.
“Everything is new to me as this is my first season at this level.
“I know it is difficult in these situations, but that is why I am out on the pitch, to try and make a difference.”
In December, Watmore graduated with first-class honours after collecting his first in economics and business management, the England Under-21 forward juggling the intensive training programme of his day job with long hours of study in the evening.
And the talent and commitment levels of the ex-Altrincham forward has impressed boss Sam Allardyce.
Handed his full league debut against Southampton in November, Watmore has since been used more as an impact sub, playing 60 minutes against Liverpool after coming on for the injured Jack Rodwell.
Watmore has praised Allardyce though, and says he is happy to do “whatever is asked” of him.
“I love getting minutes and I got a lot (against Liverpool) because of the injury,” added Watmore.
“I feel like the manager has been great with me – superb – and I will do whatever is asked of me.
“I am ready to do that and if it is to make an impact off the bench then I am more than happy to try and do that.”
Sunderland certainly need some inspiration from somewhere given their current run of form.
When asked what will it take to get out of trouble, Watmore added: “We have to stick together and be positive.
“We know we can get out of this, and that is what we have to do.
“We have a great manager, great players and fans, we have all the right ingredients, we need to start putting it all together.
“The timing of the goal (against Liverpool) was very frustrating, there is a lot to build on but it is another loss.
“We need to turn that round.”