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Diary of a Sunderland fan: #13 - Is the solution to our striking issues right under our noses?

Could soon-to-return forward Duncan Watmore be the answer to our problems in front of goal?

Norwich City v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images

It will be the international break when he comes back but he is making good progress. He can’t wait to wear the red and white shirt again. Hopefully he could be back for one of the first two games after the break.

Simon Grayson’s encouraging words when talking about Duncan Watmore’s chances of returning gave a glimmer of hope to those of us who are relishing the return to action of the impressive youngster.

Befallen by a devastating knee injury during a game with Leicester City in December, Watmore has spent much of the last eleven months rehabilitating in preparation for his return.

And I have absolutely no doubt that he’ll return fitter, stronger and more determined than ever before. Though he’s young, Watmore is wise and collected. He’s more than capable of handling such an incredible set-back in the best possible fashion - if anything, missing out for as long as he has will have made him even more hungry to succeed at this football club.

Should Grayson’s prediction come true, we may well see Watmore return around the time we play Sheffield United and Nottingham Forest at home in around a month’s time. We have five games before then - and much can change in that time.

Sunderland Kicks Heroes Event Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images

Lewis Grabban looks impressive enough, and James Vaughan works hard, but there’s still something missing in our front line that we have no choice but remedy if we are to amount to anything in the Championship this season. We need a nippy poacher capable of tearing apart defences - and a target man wouldn’t go amiss either.

Simon Grayson has made it a key emphasis that all of his players need to work hard for the shirt if they are given the opportunity to do so, and you’d like to think that a young man with the characteristics of Watmore will absolutely relish playing for someone that will appreciate him for the things he can bring to our side.

In fact, Grayson this week has talked up the ability of Watmore, saying he feels that ‘he is one of the most talented’ players that we have at Sunderland currently:

In terms of his calibre of player I think he is one of the most talented here at the club. He has that energy, that pace, he has the work-rate the supporters love.

Even when I was at Preston we looked at getting him on loan but it wasn’t an option for us. He will be like a new signing for us.

The manager then added:

He can play both sides, is very flexible. I don’t know where he wants to play and his best position because I have not really seen much of him in the last year.

He will be a very welcome addition because he his everything we are looking for, a player willing to run and get fans on their edge of their seats again.

We’ll need to ease Duncan back in to life as a first team player, of course, but everything is there to suggest that he’s capable of being a success here, in that position.

And whilst managers in the past have preferred to play Watmore off the right hand side - largely due to the fact he’s so quick and can help to stretch defences with his speed - he’s a striker. He was a striker in his days as a youth player, he was a striker coming through at Altrincham and he was a striker for our U23s.

Is this where Duncan Watmore steps forward? Provided he’s managed to retain all of the pace that he had before his knee issue, there’s absolutely no doubting that he’s capable of terrorising defences at this level.