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Press Conference: Excellent news - Duncan Watmore set for his Sunderland first-team return

Sunderland assistant manager James Fowler met the press today ahead of tomorrow’s game with Notts County in the Checkatrade Trophy, giving a huge update on the return of Duncan Watmore.

Sunderland v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

On the Walsall result...

Obviously, we were going into the game hoping to win and get through into the next round. Obviously, we’re still in the tie with drawing the game.

I think first half we were relatively happy, we didn’t really seem to get started in the second half. Walsall got on top and the game probably petered out a little bit.

We’ve had a tough week as well, with the squad having the high intensity games that they’ve had.

So, we’re just pleased to get a draw in the end and we look forward to the draw and hopefully we can win the replay.

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On the fitness of the squad...

I think tomorrow gives us an opportunity to freshen things up a bit.

We’ve got one or two players coming back from injury which will help the squad as well and some of the younger ones will get an opportunity to play.

So, I think it’s a good opportunity for the lads coming in to show us what they’ve got because we’re going to need them in the league games coming up.

We’ve got a really busy schedule coming up.

One, it will get some players game time and it will also allow the manager to see them in that environment and hopefully they take their opportunity.

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On Duncan Watmore’s involvement...

Yes, Duncan will be part of the squad, so we’ll be looking to get him some game time tomorrow on his road back from his injury.

What we’ve seen previously from Duncan in the games that we’ve had and in training, we’re really excited to have him back in the first-team environment.

I think he’s a really good player, but he’s a great lad to have in and about the changing room as well and he’ll add to the group once he’s back involved full-time.

Sunderland v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

On the youngsters featuring tomorrow...

These lads will still be part of the squad.

Obviously, Bali Mumba is somebody who missed out last time, so it’s good for him, he’ll be starting the game tomorrow, so we look forward to seeing him play.

It’s a good opportunity for him, he came on at the weekend and I thought he had a really positive impact on the game.

So, it will be good to see him from the start.

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On the possibility of reaching Wembley...

That’s the thing, when you start the competition you want to go as far as you can, and it’s allowed us to get players game time.

But, its important for the club, the fans and the players as a whole to win these games and progress through the competition and looking to try to get to Wembley for the final.

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On current injuries...

Injuries, we’re not too bad.

I think George Honeyman is still carrying a little bit of a knock.

Everybody from the weekend is back training.

Chris Maguire was better today, he missed out Saturday just hurting himself in the warm-up. So, injury wise we’re good to go, near enough a full squad.

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On the depth of the squad for the upcoming schedule...

Yes, I think so.

Charlie Wyke is working his way back and Duncan Watmore has been added to the squad.

There’s probably only two or three in with the physio just now, so in terms of the squad, it’s getting to where we want it to be.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

What do you expect from the squad tomorrow night?

We expect to win the game.

I think that’s the demands at this club, it doesn’t matter who we’re playing, we want to win the game.

It’s an opportunity for players that maybe haven’t had much game time recently to keep topping them up.

But we believe we’ve got good players here within the club, within the whole squad, within the Under 23’s, so hopefully they show that tomorrow night.

Sunderland AFC

How much of a priority is the Checkatrade trophy?

Obviously, from day one it’s been promotion out of League One for ourselves.

But once you’re in competitions and you progress through, you want to keep winning.

It keeps that momentum going within the club as well and a feel-good factor.

So, it’s important for us.

As I said, we’ll make some changes tomorrow night which will allow the lads from league games to have a break, but it’s important that we put on a good show and the players show what they can do tomorrow night and hopefully we win the game.

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