Duncan Watmore could return for Sunderland at Norwich, as Sam Allardyce considers changes

Duncan Watmore

Duncan Watmore

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Duncan Watmore could make his competitive return from the bench at Norwich City, as Sam Allardyce considers his options for Sunderland's crunch relegation clash.

Watmore has been back in full training ahead of schedule this week after recovering from the ankle ligament damage which has kept him sidelined since February's draw at Liverpool.

The 22-year-old will not be thrown into the starting XI in Saturday lunchtime's pivotal encounter against relegation rivals Norwich, but he is likely to be in the squad at Carrow Road.

And with Watmore offering a different option to any of the other players at Allardyce's disposal, the Sunderland manager is ready to use him from the bench.

Allardyce told the Echo: "There'll be no pressure on him because he's been out for six or eight weeks.

"He'll come back in and run around like we know he can.

"He could cause havoc at some stage in the last six games.

"He's a great alternative. In a fully fit squad, this is another player with a different version of how you play the game.

"He's got strengths that other players haven't got.

"We won't use him from the start at Norwich, but we may use him as a sub, depending on how he feels tomorrow after a full week's training."

Allardyce kept the same starting XI for back-to-back Stadium of Light games against West Brom and Leicester, but he has been experimenting with different personnel and systems in training this week.

But with so much riding on a game which could see Sunderland move to within a point of fourth bottom Norwich or fall seven points adrift, Allardyce is considering any changes carefully.

"It's a very delicate situation as a manager to make that decision, particularly as the game is so vital," he added.

"We've looked at it, talked about it and done a bit of practice.

"That has got the lads thinking 'am I or aren't I?' They don't quite know at the moment.

"I've played around with it a bit and got them thinking a little bit.

"We'll make that final decision tomorrow.

"We've got options and opportunities to change the system or personnel.

"It's whether we consider it's the right thing to do in such a big game. That's our call."