Duncan Watmore won’t play for Sunderland v Southampton but Adam Johnson in squad

PROSPECT: Duncan Watmore in action for Sunderland U21 against Manchester United U21.  Picture by FRANK REID
PROSPECT: Duncan Watmore in action for Sunderland U21 against Manchester United U21. Picture by FRANK REID
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DUNCAN WATMORE will remain absent from the Sunderland squad for today’s visit of Southampton, despite his scoring prowess for the Under-21s.

Forward Watmore was an unused substitute for Dick Advocaat’s opening game in charge at West Ham, but hasn’t even made the bench since, despite netting four goals in his last four outings for the U21s.

He’s an excellent goalscorer, but will he do the same in these kind of games? With all respect, I have my doubts

DICK ADVOCAAT

Fellow youngsters Liam Agnew and George Honeyman were surprisingly preferred among the substitutes for last weekend’s draw at Stoke and head coach Advocaat has confirmed that Watmore will again be missing today.

Advocaat does not believe Watmore is ready for the high-pressure environment of a relegation battle and says he cannot take a chance on the 21-year-old.

“When I arrived here, I had to do this with the squad I had,” said Advocaat.

“We have five strikers for one position. I cannot say to the five that we pick Duncan.

“If I knew he was better, I would use him.

“But at the moment he’s not, with the experience that we need now.

“If it was at the beginning of the season, it would be a totally different situation, or if it was in pre-season.

“But now I cannot take that risk.

“He’s an excellent goalscorer, but will he do the same in these kind of games? With all respect, I have my doubts.”

Advocaat will not even hand Watmore a place on the bench against the Saints, despite Sunderland’s desperate need to boost their survival hopes with a victory.

“He’s not in the squad,” added Advocaat.

“No, I wouldn’t risk him on the bench because there are still other players.”

But Advocaat has confirmed that Johnson will be in the squad tomorrow after he was not mentally fit to feature at Stoke last weekend, following his charges for three offences of sexual activity with a child under 16 years old, plus one offence of grooming.

“His name is in the squad,” added Advocaat