Sunderland have put an end to recent transfer speculation with the news that they have tied down youngster Tommy Watson to his first professional deal, as confirmed by the official club website.
The 17-year-old made the headlines in April when he made his senior debut for the Black Cats, coming on as a late substitute in the 1-1 draw with Huddersfield Town. With a first professional deal yet to be signed, clubs from the Premier League were said to be monitoring the situation, as well as Scottish giants Rangers.
The Wearside club have now confirmed that the winger has committed his future to the club, signing a deal which will keep him at the Stadium of Light until 2026.
Watson is expected to be the next in a long line of academy stars to progress into Sunderland’s senior team on a regular basis, whilst the player will be hoping that he can break back into the England under-17 squad after recovering from injury. He has featured on five occasions for the young Three Lions, scoring in the 6-0 friendly win over Germany in January.
Upon confirmation of today’s news, Watson revealed his delight at having committed his future to the club he has been with since under-9 level;
“I am delighted to continue my journey here at Sunderland. I have had a frustrating time recently with injuries, but a lot of hard work has gone in to get to this moment. I would like to thank all the staff who have supported me over the years and my teammates for being there with me every step of the way. This is only just the start and I know I am at the right place to continue my development.”
Sunderland’s academy is renowned for its success stories, with England internationals Jordan Henderson and Jordan Pickford among many to have come through their system. Big things are expected from Tommy Watson and it will be interesting to see if he is given any first team opportunities following his debut last season.
His development is crucial and Tony Mowbray will be in no rush to thrust him into action. Another season playing in the under-18 and under-21 setups will benefit him, whilst a loan next season could be explored.