Duncan Watmore experienced the high and low of football within a frantic few minutes at the end of the Black Cats draw at Wycombe Wanderers two weeks ago.
He scored his first goal for the Wearsiders for over three years deep into stoppage time, before being crudely fouled, suffering ligament damage and being ruled out for at least two months.
It is not new for flame-haired winger, having suffered two ACL injuries in as many years, but this latest setback will see him miss Sunderland’s Wembley outing in the EFL Trophy final on Sunday.
Watmore’s dad, Ian, the thought of missing that game, as well as his belief that he had finally found a run of form, were the two things that “dawned on him” after the extent of the injury was confirmed.
Ian told the Sunderland Echo: “What really annoyed him about it was he’d just had his high. You can imagine scoring that goal in front of the fans, the equaliser in the 94th minute is the sort of high that you dream of when you’re doing those endless hours of rehab.
“He’s had two years of that and then he finally comes out and does it and then it’s two minutes later and he didn’t really get the chance to enjoy the moment.
“The second thing that dawned on him was he wasn’t going to be able to play at Wembley which is one of the things he’s never actually done.
“Much more importantly he really thought he was just coming into a bit of form and that goal would have spurred him on just at a critical time with games coming up to get to automatic promotion.”
Ian went on to describe the “unbelievable” support of manager, Jack Ross, who has challenged him to regain his fitness by the end of May.
“The club has had a good couple of games and the manager has given him a target to get himself playing fit again by the end of May so he can have a proper pre-season.
“I think probably in the back of his head, he hopes he doesn’t have to play again this season because it means automatic promotion, but if there was a need to go to Wembley for the play-off final, he might just be fit for that.”
It is unlikely that the player will feature again this season, with managers and medical departments preferring to err on the side of caution regarding major injuries nowadays, but setting himself a target like that can only help him in his rehabilitation.
If it turns out that Watmore is being considered for a play-off final appearance, then it would mean that Sunderland’s finish to the season has not panned out as planned.
The play-offs will be the last thing anyone at the club is hoping for, or even thinking about, with automatic promotion the sole focus on everyone’s mind.
Failure to go up in one of those two spots would still be considered a failure by many within, and associated with, the club.
To endure a nightmare scenario that involves the lottery that is the play-offs would be an impending disaster for the club that must go up at the first time of asking.
A club like Sunderland should not end up in a position where they are one bad performance away from staying in League One.
What are your thoughts on the luckless Sunderland winger? Would you see promotion via the play-offs as something of a failure this season? Let us know below…
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