Having only just returned from a long layoff through injury, fan favourite Duncan Watmore was faced with yet another set-back on his road to recovery last weekend.
During the game against Wycombe Wanders, Watmore scored a much-needed equaliser in extra time to steal a point for the Lads. However, just a few moments later he was brought down cynically by Wanderers midfielder Marcus Bean, who was dismissed following a second yellow card.
Jack Ross confirmed that, as a result of the disgusting challenge, Watmore would be out for the rest of this season with a serious ankle issue. The hope is that Watmore can be fit enough to start pre-season - another unfortunate and disheartening setback for a player who really does deserve so much more.
The incident is a massive blow to Duncan, who has suffered terribly from a series of long-term injuries in recent years. Watmore only recently returned to action for the Lads in December 2018, being used as a substitute before playing his first full 90 minutes against Blackpool last month.
It’s just saddening and awful to see such a talented player’s career marred by problems that aren’t even self-inflicted. Watmore suffered an anterior cruciate knee ligament injury in December 2016 against Leicester following on from a clash with Christian Fuchs - a sickening blow which kept him out for over ten months.
He then made his return for Sunderland against Queens Park Rangers in October 2017, providing the side with some much-missed pace - something that, without him, we arguably still lack.
However, just six games into his long-awaited return, disaster struck for the Roadrunner again. In a game with Millwall, Watmore was struck down with yet another knee problem.
And, to add more salt to the wound, he experienced the exact same injury on the exact same knee that had kept him out for ten months previously - a massive mental and physical blow to a player who, prior to injury, was a regular playing for Gareth Southgate in the England U21s side alongside a whole host of players who are now regulars for the senior side.
Watmore, by my reckoning, must be one of the unluckiest players currently in the game.
It’s extremely disheartening to see a bright talent who adds so much to the Sunderland side face setback after setback - and it’s my belief that it’s incredibly important that we, as fans, ensure that Watmore gets all the support that he can.
This is probably even more important after the recent Sunderland ‘Til I Die documentary gave us an insight into the struggles of another player who suffered terribly with injuries in Jonny Williams.
For a professional footballer who loves being out there on the pitch, spending so much time on the sidelines must torture them mentally, and the frustration of being unable to contribute must surely take its toll.
It’s sad to see such a fantastic person and player suffer so many setbacks, and the way his day ended at Wycombe perhaps best summarises the good and bad of football. Having scored the equaliser for his side in the most dramatic of fashions, he was cruelly robbed of the rest of his season by a horrendous challenge from a fellow professional who really ought to have known better.
One thing is for certain, Duncan’s experiences already in his short career stand him in good stead to deal with this latest setback - a frustrating ordeal but one far less severe than the others he’s had to deal with in recent years.
I think that I speak for us all when I say we sincerely wish Duncan a speedy recovery, and that we hope to see him back in action, doing what he does best, very soon.