Middlesbrough sign ex-Sunderland forward Duncan Watmore

Duncan Watmore in his Sunderland playing days.Duncan Watmore in his Sunderland playing days.
Duncan Watmore in his Sunderland playing days.
Former Sunderland forward Duncan Watmore has signed a short-term deal with Middlesbrough.

The 26-year-old was a free agent after he was released by Sunderland in the summer and the Echo understands he was close to signing for Indian Super League club East Bengal before learning about Boro’s interest.

Watmore had been training with the Teessiders for the last few weeks, with manager Neil Warnock delighted to see him sign a short-term deal until mid-January.

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“I’m ever so pleased we’ve been able to get him on board,” said the Boro boss.

“He’s done very well in training and he’s a smashing lad.

"He fits in really well in the dressing and I’m hoping that he can give us a bit of something different.

“It’s only a short-term contract and it’s up to him to show us that he deserves a longer one.”

Watmore joined Sunderland as a teenager and spent seven years on Wearside, arriving when the club was an established Premier League side.

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The forward was a fan favourite at the Stadium of Light but struggled with two serious knee injuries during his time at Sunderland before he was released in the summer.

EFL clubs have been hampered in the transfer market due to reduced revenue streams caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It emerged last week the EFL board will allow clubs to defer tax arrangements to aid financial problems which have been created by the pandemic, or if they have agreed a new repayment schedule with HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs).

Clubs have been told the introduction of a new 'Covid PAYE liability rule' will enable them to make short-term savings on tax and avoid a transfer embargo until February at the earliest.

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That will allow clubs more wriggle room to sign free agents before the January transfer market, and make new additions once the window reopens.

Boro had been assessing the free agent market after missing out on multiple targets, including Everton’s Yannick Bolasie, during the last transfer window.

After Ashley Fletcher was ruled out until at least January with a hamstring injury, Britt Assombalonga and Chuba Akpom are the only fit forwards at the club.