Duncan Watmore is taking inspiration from Paddy McNair’s superb form and ‘big impact’ for Sunderland ahead of Saturday’s crunch clash with Burton Albion.
Sunderland, who could be relegated this weekend, are six points adrift of Championship safety, with three games left.
There has been a recent upturn in performances – with McNair at the heart of it – but throwing away leads in the last three games leaves them on the brink of League One football.
McNair’s form has, though, been a positive.
Watmore and McNair (pictured) spent months together, having suffered cruciate knee ligament injuries last season.Watmore then suffered a second just six games into his comeback.
“When we were both injured, we both wanted to get back and be as strong as we can because we both felt we could make a strong impact,” said Watmore.
“Unfortunately for me, it didn’t happen. While Paddy has also had a couple of niggly injuries, he is now he is fully fit and you can see he is a fantastic player and he has a big impact on the team.
“With injuries like this, it takes a while to get back to that level, but you are now starting to see that Paddy is back up there. He deserves it because he is a great guy and he works very hard.
“I think we’ve got a really good group here in the dressing room, with a lot of young lads. That’s why it is so hard to explain the season we are having.
“We’re working hard, but, for whatever reason, it is just not working. But I am excited to get back and play with the lads who are here because I know we can put in good performances.”
Watmore injured his knee for the second time against Millwall in November, the day before Chris Coleman was appointed as manager.
On Coleman, Watmore said: “He’s been great – he is always positive, and the lads enjoy training.
“I haven’t had any training contact with him yet, but, in terms of just being around the place, he has been great with me, checking how I am doing.
“[The timing of the injury] was so frustrating for so many reasons – the work I had put in initially, how I was starting to feel – to feel it go again was so frustrating.
“Then a day or so after the new manager came in, so the timing could hardly have been worse.
“But I had to accept it, I did that quite quickly, and now I am just focused on my rehab so I can get back to playing for Sunderland.”