It was another frustrating season for perhaps the most frustrated player on Wearside as Duncan Watmore once again missed most of a campaign for the third year in a row.
What could be concerning for Watmore is that even when fit this season he has failed to make inroads into the starting eleven.
He made just 11 starts in the 18-19 season, scoring only one goal. In dribs and drabs throughout his career at Sunderland he has shown that he can be a very decent player but the injuries and lack of impact when fit to play has been disappointing for Sunderland fans, and no doubt for Duncan himself.
He works hard, and his turn of pace assures that he could beat any league one full back on his day.
However, the question of “is Watmore in Jack Ross’ plans next season?” remains to be answered. On one hand, Watmore will make a useful option out wide but this depends on if the injury issue which has plagued him for the majority of his Sunderland career is cured.
If Ross wanted to sell the 25-year-old winger on he may find it difficult; for Watmore to leave Sunderland it would require a team to take a gamble on his fitness, something many teams in the modern game don’t have time to entertain.
Whilst it seems most likely that Watmore will be a Sunderland player next year, the easiest way for both parties to go their separate ways would be for the former Manchester United academy man to leave on a free - a gamble, but one perhaps worth taking when considering his injury record and wages, which apparently total around £20,000 per week.
But, if he stays, it could be a crucial campaign next season for Watmore. If he can maintain his fitness and take any chance given to him by Ross, then he could look to enjoy a fruitful campaign at the SoL. It’s getting to a point in Watmore’s career, perhaps the time has passed, for him to have a solid and marginally less injury ravaged season.
It’s been three years since Watmore last registered over 15 appearances in a campaign, a fact which would be damaging to any footballer not least one who has struggled with the worst kinds of injuries.
On his day Watmore has potential to be one of our best wingers.
It’s clear when he plays that the injuries of the last few years have made him more cautious when going into challenges on the pitch. This is more than understandable, the thought of being potentially one more injury away from being forced to retire is a thought which would swamp any footballer in Watmore’s position.
Personally, I feel that next season would only be his last on Wearside if he has a good enough campaign and remains fit.
He wouldn’t be the first good player plucked from the club prematurely and he certainly wouldn’t be the last, either way I hope that Watmore gets a good run in the side and injuries permitting he’d be given game time.
Based off last season it’s easy to say that Watmore is a better player than Lyndon Gooch, for example. Needless to say, that many fans would probably prefer a half fit Watmore over Gooch.
Watmore has occasionally impressed during his time on Wearside. He made a breakthrough into the side in the Premier League and was often a shining light during some of the worst performances in the club’s history.
Seeing him go would be a shame, but if he is not part of Jack Ross’ plans then it will be better for him to have a go at getting his fitness back at a club which might view him as important. If he does go, he will be fondly remembered as a player who always gave his all but was hit with the worst luck.