Jack Ross is pleased to see attacker Duncan Watmore back in training, but is urging caution as the 24-year-old edges closer to a return.
Watmore has been absent since suffering a recurrence of a cruciate knee injury during the 2-2 draw with Millwall earlier this year, but has started to join Jack Ross' squad for some parts of recent training sessions.
And while Ross is delighted to see the former Altrincham man getting nearer to a return, he won't be rushing the forward back into first team action.
The Scot did, however, offer an update on Watmore's progress and what his next steps would be.
“He’s joined in with me probably for over a week now, but just bits and pieces depending on what we’re doing.
“We have a meeting every morning anyway to discuss what we’re doing.
“Paul Walsh, who is working with Duncan very closely on the medical side of it, will discuss what we’re doing, how he can get involved and when we take him out.
“The people he sees externally are also really positive and happy with where his knee is at. I think there’s a duty of care for us because it is his second injury and it is a bad one to get.
“So there’s no timeframe.
“I want him back and he wants to be back because he looks at us now and wants to be involved, but I keep stressing to him, there’s no pressure.
“He’ll get there and I think it’ll be sooner rather than later but I’ve never put a timeframe on it.
“The next stage will be for him to train fully, probably with the younger players, which I think he is keen on. Psychologically that will be good, slightly less intense and then join us.
“Even when he’s fit, last time he was probably thrown in quite quickly because of the circumstances. It’s important even when we get to that stage that we have that [cautious] approach because it’ll be better for everyone in the long run.”
When he is fit though, Ross has a clear idea of what Watmore will add to his team.
READ: Sunderland boss ready to wield axe if required
The Sunderland boss is keen for his side to stretch teams and believes the pacy forward is the ideal man for the job, highlights his desire to run towards goal as a key asset.
“On the pitch, we don’t really have a lot that stretches the game. We have a lot of players that like the ball and want to come to the ball, and I think that’s partly why we’re having some issues at the moment.
“Last Saturday I was really frustrated by that. We’d done a lot of work in the build-up on stretching the game and we couldn’t do it, so you end up inviting pressure close to your own goal. Duncan does it with and without the ball, his first thought is to run towards goal. We don’t really have that."