Sunderland’s fight for survival has been given a major boost – the return to form of Duncan Watmore.
Victor Anichebe’s outstanding first Premier League start for the Black Cats dominated the headlines and post-match punditry following the 2-1 win at Bournemouth.
Jordan Pickford too collected his fair share of the plaudits – while Anichebe was scoring and winning the match-winning Jermain Defoe penalty, the keeper was performing heroics in the other box.
However, in between the two goals, the superb display by Watmore went somewhat under the radar, though not that of boss David Moyes.
But the 22-year-old gave the sort of vibrant impact which could provide further belief that the Black Cats could get out of the Premier League relegation zone.
“He’s got something,” said Moyes. “He needs to learn when to slow down and when to speed up a bit more.
“Technically, hopefully his development will improve.
“I thought Duncan, at times, was really positive against Bournemouth”
His display in the 2-1 win at Dean Court was like chalk an cheese compared to his display seven days earlier against Arsenal.
While the England U21 star won the penalty which brought the Black Cats level with the Gunners, otherwise he struggled, though it has to be said he was not alone on that front.
Little went right at the Stadium of Light, but fast forward seven days, he was a revelation at Dean Court.
He formed a good alliance with the rejuvenated Billy Jones down the right and was involved in some of the best approach work by Sunderland.
Watmore got into the danger area soon just before the mid-point of the first half and played a terrific ball across the six-yard box which should have been food and drink for a man of Defoe’s calibre.
Alas, Sunderland’s leading scorer was on the edge of the 18-yard box.
But that was a glimpse of what he could do and at the end of the first half he was part of another rapid attack which ended with him converting Jones’s cross.
Celebrations for his first goal of the season were soon cut short by the linesman’s offside flag.
Watmore DID make his mark in the second half, cleverly playing in Anichebe who was brought down by Adam Smith.
There was, as always, no shortage of miles covered defensively as well, but his work in the opposition half was excellent.
“He was disappointed in the first half that he did not take on people more often,” explained Moyes.
“In one attack, he got to the by-line and put in a great cross.”
Watmore is away on international duty this week, having been selected, alongside Pickford, for England U21’s friendlies.
The Three Lions play Italy at Southampton on Thursday before facing France in Paris four days later.
Watmore scored the fourth goal in England’s 5-0 European Championship qualifying win over Bosnia-Herzegovina in Walsall last month.