UNLESS Sunderland rubber-stamp their survival this Saturday, then Duncan Watmore will have to wait until next season to make his Premier League bow.
There’s the possibility (albeit no-one wants to tempt fate) that if nothing is riding on Sunderland’s trips to Arsenal and Chelsea next week, Dick Advocaat may change his tune over blooding the club’s promising youngsters.
Every fresh goal at the moment is bringing fresh question marks over why the 21-year-old remains confined to the Under-21s.
But when pre-season comes around, whoever is in charge of Sunderland and whatever league the club are in, they have to take a closer look at Watmore and make a decision on whether he can be a realistically be considered part of the first-team squad.
Every fresh goal at the moment is bringing fresh question marks over why the 21-year-old remains confined to the Under-21s after he took his tally to six in six last night.
No, he’s not ready to be a starter at present, but as an option coming off the bench, it would be a worth a pound or two wager that Watmore would unsettle Premier League defenders for the last 20 minutes or so.
Watmore’s winner secured what was a deserved victory for Sunderland in front of the watching Ellis Short at the Stadium of Light, as Robbie Stockdale’s men put a big dent in Chelsea’s hopes of winning the U21 Premier League.
Sunderland moved the ball excellently with crisp, sharp passing and for the most part, controlled proceedings, even if Chelsea created several promising openings themselves.
Midfield trio George Honeyman, Martin Smith and Lynden Gooch were particularly eye-catching, with their one and two-touch play.
The visitors produced the game’s first meaningful effort in the 11th minute when the impressive Kasey Palmer unleashed an angled drive from the edge of the area which skimmed off the surface, just wide of the far post.
Palmer went close again moments later when he was played in down the left-hand side of the area, but his shot across goal was pushed away by Jordan Pickford before Tommy Robson turned it behind.
The woodwork denied Sunderland in the 24th minute when Tom Beadling met Martin Smith’s right-wing corner with an excellent angled header which beat Chelsea keeper Mitchell Beeney, but crashed back against the top of the crossbar.
Jeremie Boga should then have handed Chelsea the lead on the stroke of half-time when he was picked out in space 12 yards out, but he shot straight at Pickford.
But it was Sunderland who went ahead in the 52nd minute when one of several excellent passes out of defence from Pickford was misjudged by the Chelsea defence, leaving Watmore with just Beeney to beat.
Watmore never looked like he was going to miss and coolly slotted it beyond the Chelsea stopper into the far corner.
Chelsea almost levelled immediately when Palmer’s overhead kick from the left-hand side of the area was allowed to bounce in a crowded six-yard box and bobbled just wide of the far post.
Mikael Mandron then came close to doubling Sunderland’s advantage just after the hour mark when he was played in by Honeyman down the right-hand side of the area, but from a narrow angle, his shot was beaten behind by Beeney.
But Sunderland survived a scare in the last minute when Chelsea substitute Tammy Abraham hit the outside of the post with a deflected shot from 12 yards out.
SUNDERLAND: Pickford, J Robson, Cartwright, Beadling, T Robson, Gooch (E Robson 83), Smith, Greenwood (Blinco 83) Watmore (Nelson 90), Honeyman, Mandron. Subs not used: Burke, Casey. Booked: Gooch (66)
CHELSEA: Beeney, Tomori, Conroy, Clarke Salter (Dabo 63), Aina, Colkett, Kiwomya, Houghton, Solanke, Palmer (Abraham 63), Boga (Musonda 46). Subs not used: Collins, Mitchell.