Notts County Presser

Duncan Watmore is set to start against Notts County in the Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday night. “Duncan’s in the squad and he’ll start the game,” said Sunderland assistant boss James Fowler. “It’s important for him to get some more game time, and we’ll see how he feels at half-time and monitor it from there. It’s just really good for him to be back involved in competitive action. It’s a long-term process for him, but it’ll be great for him to be back in the stadium, in front of a decent crowd, in a competitive game. Duncan is somebody that loves football. He loves training, so obviously with the injury problems he’s had for the last couple of seasons, he’s just relishing being back involved. In terms of his attitude and application in training, I don’t think it would matter whether he’s been out injured or not, he’s always one that’s bang on. But he’s obviously got that little bit more excitement because he’s now getting the rewards for all the hard work, he’s been putting in. He’s just desperate to get back out on the pitch.”

“We can see he’s been a big player, but it’s important we can see a longer-term picture with him as well,” added Fowler. “I know he was back pretty quick last time, and although that wasn’t anything to do with his problem reoccurring, it’s important we look after him. We definitely think he’ll add to the squad and the first team when he’s back, but it’s important we allow him the time he needs to make sure he’s feeling 100 per cent fit physically, and also mentally ready to go. It’s obviously different tempos and expectations for league games than it maybe is for the Checkatrade.”

As Jack Ross rings the changes for the visit of Notts County, Robbin Ruiter will feature between the posts, Glenn Loovens will get a run out, as will Bali Mumba and Luke O’Nien. However, Chris Maguire will be rested to give his rib injury time to heal.

In other news, lovers of Donald Love will be disappointed to learn that the full back is out until February at least. “Donald will probably be out for a couple of months,” said Fowler. “He’s had a small operation to cure an ankle problem that’s been plaguing him for the majority of the season. It’s been a frustrating one for him, it’s been a bit stop-start, but hopefully now it’s been tidied up, he can move forward. He’ll be out for a month or two, but hopefully that will be him good to go when he’s back.”

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