Man-of-the-moment Duncan Watmore insists he has a “long, long way to go” before he matures into a more polished Premier League performer.
Watmore’s rise has been one of the big positives for Sunderland this season, yet the last eight days in particular, have seen the 21-year-old thrust into the limelight.
You can’t expect it to get any easier. It’s only going to get harder, so I have to learn to adapt.
The England Under-21 international rubber-stamped a new four-year contract at the Stadium of Light, before making a positive impact on Sunderland’s win at Crystal Palace last week and then produced a man of the match contribution from the bench in Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Stoke City.
But Watmore - who sealed Sunderland’s win over the Potters with the Black Cats’ second - is staying grounded over his meteoric progress, despite quickly becoming the new favourite on the terraces.
Watmore said: “I’ve got a long, long way to go and I know that.
“You can’t expect it to get any easier. It’s only going to get harder, so I have to learn to adapt.
“The only way I can do that is keep playing, keep practising and take it in my stride.
“It was an easy decision for me to sign the new contract.
“This club has been fantastic with me ever since I arrived two-and-a-half years ago.
“The passion the fans have, the staff, the players, everyone has been unbelievable.
“And when you get that reception at the Stadium of Light from those fans, that explains why I signed for four years, because of them.”
When Jermain Defoe suffered a hamstring injury on the half-hour mark, Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce turned to Watmore to replace the England international, despite big-money captures Jeremain Lens, Fabio Borini and Adam Johnson all occupying a place on the bench.
But Allardyce’s faith was justified as Watmore persistently put the Stoke defence on the back foot, before netting his second Premier League goal just two minutes after Patrick van Aanholt’s opener.
“The manager has been great with me since he came in,” he said.
“For him to show that confidence and faith in me, I’m very, very grateful for it.
“The only way I can pay it back is by playing well and scoring goals.
“Thankfully I did that on Saturday and we got a win.
“Hopefully I’ll keep getting more opportunities.
“I’m glad I could make an impact.”