Sunderland’s Duncan Watmore future is under doubt and Kevin Phillips has touched on what could happen and what the club ought to do.
The Black Cats still don’t know which division they will be competing in next season and that means they are unlikely to have ratified any plans regarding which players will leave in the summer, but one player possibly under threat is Watmore.
The winger offered so much potential when he first broke through in the Premier League but his contract is up at the end of the season and his injury woes mean it is a gamble to keep him on.
He is 26 now but has failed to live up to that initial expectation due to his fitness issues, and since they have shown little sign of subsiding this season, with Watmore featuring in only 17 league games, it may be time to let him go.
Since taking over Parkinson has started him just six times in League One, too, with the last of those coming in December, and that means he may be released.
Phillips opposes such an outcome, however, though he did acknowledge that in certain circumstances it may be best if he is moved on.
Speaking to Football Insider, he said:
“He got an injury and he does not look like the same player since coming back. How many times do you see that with players?
“He has not played a lot of football so I am not saying he needs to leave the club because Sunderland need to keep him. But if he is not playing week in week out next season…
“He needs to play regularly to find his form. That will be discussed at the end of the season but if you can get him backfiring it would be like having a new signing again.”
When Watmore first came through his biggest asset was arguably his pace, but severe injuries in recent years have hindered his capacity in that area, and now it is difficult to see what he offers ahead of his teammates.
Chris Maguire, for example, has proved far more effective on the right flank with 11 goals and 13 assists, becoming the Black Cats’ key man in the process.
Other than an assist for Max Power’s late equaliser against Fleetwood a few weeks ago Watmore has had a minimal impact on Sunderland’s promotion effort, with Parkinson deeming him insufficient to start on a regular basis.
The north-east outfit would, therefore, be better suited to bringing in a reinforcement who could offer more reliability, and with that a greater return than Watmore’s one goal and three assists in the league.
It would be a disappointing end for the winger given he came through the club’s academy, but whether Sunderland are promoted or not they require a ruthlessness in their decision-making in order to be successful.
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