Duncan Watmore has been singled out by Middlesbrough coach Leo Percovich for special praise following his signing earlier in the season.
Watmore was left on the footballing scrap-heap by Sunderland in the summer following a seven-year spell with the club.
After a promising first few years at the Stadium of Light, Watmore’s serious injury troubles began when suffering a knee injury in December 2016, and then after returning briefly in 2017 he suffered the same fate.
The winger was a bit-part player in his final season with Sunderland and there were doubts that he’d make it back up the leagues to where he once was due to his past injury troubles, but Neil Warnock spotted something in him back in November and Watmore hasn’t looked back since.
He’s netted six times since penning a contract with Boro and he’s shown great strides and commitment to improving himself, and has formed a close bond with Percovich who helps him with some training drills before games.
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“Duncan likes to do this movement and touch drill at the end of the warm-ups before the match. So I support him to do that,” Percovich revealed to the Teesside Gazette.
“We’ve built a trust and it creates a confidence pattern for Duncan because some players have little routines they get into.
“I think the first time we did it was before the game he scored twice in, so he’s wanted to do it ever since.”
Percovich, who arrived at the Riverside under Aitor Karanka’s management and returned when Jonathan Woodgate took over in 2019, had nothing but good things to say about Watmore, who has now overcome his injury troubles and has stayed fit all season.
“Duncan is such a lovely kid too and he’s been a very good signing for the club,” Percovich said.
“He’s very humble and a hard worker, so I’m proud to help him.”
After his Sunderland career petered out, Watmore probably didn’t expect to get another chance in the Championship until he had proven himself at League One level.
But this is a player who showed excitement in the Premier League until two destabilising knee injuries – he’s always had the talent but the confidence following those setbacks may have deserted him.
Neil Warnock and Percovich look to have gotten the best out of Watmore now though and although he’s hardly scored since his impressive first few months on Teesside, the 26-year-old is only looking forward now.