Jack Ross has revealed that returning winger Duncan Watmore will sit out of this weekend’s clash with Accrington Stanley, despite completing his first 90 minutes for the Black cats in over a year.
Watmore was one of the key figures in their 1-1 draw with Blackpool earlier this week, a result that saw Sunderland lose ground in the hunt for a spot in the Championship. They’ve got two more crucial home matches, against Accrington and Gillingham, but Watmore won’t play a part in the first one.
“All being well he will be back for the Gillingham fixture on Tuesday,” Ross told the Chronicle. “It’s not me influencing Duncan in that respect, it’s more him influencing me. It’s what’s been in place for a while, and it’ll continue being in place until he gets past a certain landmark in his recovery and rehab.”
The former St Mirren boss was delighted to see the player come through 90 minutes against Blackpool, but warned of his absence this weekend simply being part of the process by which he returns to full fitness mentally, as well as physically.
“That situation made him have to play the 90-plus minutes, and he looked more than capable of doing so, which was another step forward>”
“There’s a physical aspect and there’s also a mental side too which has been different. You have that spike of emotion when you first come back in, and then a little bit of reality about being a professional footballer again, and all the ups and downs that go with that. You probably then level out a bit, and that’s where he’s got to now.”
Sunderland are now four points behind second placed Barnsley with a game in hand and ten behind Luton, with two games in hand.
Sunderland have a big squad, full of top quality players and there’s little need to start risking Watmore on certain fixtures.
Accrington will be up for the game too, they’ll need to unsettle their illustrious opponents and make them work hard. After 90 minutes against Blackpool, it’s perhaps best Watmore doesn’t play in that environment.