Jack Ross verdict on Duncan Watmore's Sunderland strike and why it will feel extra special
Sunderland’s Checkatrade Trophy victory over Manchester City Under-21s was made all the more sweeter as Duncan Watmore opened the scoring.
Until his recent return, the forward had spent two years out of the game following consecutive ACL injuries, this his first goal for Sunderland since April 2016.
Watmore was elated - and a little relieved no doubt to - when his fine finish hit the back of the net to open the scoring.
Lynden Gooch, a second half sub, added a second to seal what proved a comfortable win in the end.
Ross said: “Anything we get from Duncan this season is a bonus, because the length of time he has been out, it is challenging physically and mentally.
“He is not going to be bang at it straight away. Until he gets a close pre-season period under his belt we won’t see that.
“So for him to get a goal and another 60 minutes - I do believe it is the first time he has scored in three years or so - that will mean a lot and it makes the long, hard days worthwhile.”
Gooch has looked a little jaded in recent weeks but the winger scored a superb second, curling home from 25-yards to seal the win.
On Gooch, Ross added: “It was an opportunity to rest Lynden but he contributes second half through the quality of the goal.
“That type of finish he was producing regularly over the opening few months of the season.
“I have a lot of time for Lynden and he will take confidence from that, as players do.”
Manchester City U21s - led by coach Paul Harsley - named a young side with several regulars instead involved in the squad to face Burton Albion on Wednesday night in the second leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final.
City named two 16-year-olds in Taylor Harwood-Bellis and Jayden Braaf and three 17-year-olds, the average age of the team just 17.7 years, with 21-year-old keeper Daniel Grimshaw the oldest player in their starting XI.
There was no Bali Mumba for Sunderland, he was suspended having picked up two yellow cards in previous rounds of the competition, the 17-year-old serving a one-match ban.
The draw for the semi-finals of the competition takes place live on talkSPORT on Friday lunchtime.
Sunderland will face either Portsmouth, Bury or Bristol Rovers in the semi-finals.