Dean Ashton has hailed Middlesbrough boss Neil Warnock for the work he has done to get Duncan Watmore fit and firing in the Championship.
Watmore joined Boro on a short-term deal last month having been released by Sunderland in the summer, where he spent seven years after joining them in 2013 from Altrincham.
The winger has suffered from injury hell in the previous few years, with separate issues with his knee and ankle ruling him out of a large portion of 2018 and 2019.
When he was fit in the 2019/20 campaign, he rarely got much game-time, which led to his release by the Black Cats.
After being unattached for four months, Warnock took a gamble by adding Watmore to a squad that lacked depth in the attack, and he’s more-than repaid the faith shown already, with four goals in six league outings.
A new, longer contract is on the horizon for Watmore and you’d imagine other clubs would be interested in him given his current form, but you’d expect that he’ll show some faith in the manager that has taken a chance on him.
Former Premier League and EFL striker Dean Ashton has heaped praise on Warnock for his decision to bring the 26-year-old attacker into the fold, and says it shows a lot about his managerial acumen that he is getting the best out of Watmore.
“I just think it was always going to take a manager like Neil Warnock to take a chance on him,” Ashton said on Quest.
“He was an under-21 international with Jack Grealish, big things were thought of him, and then horrible injuries hampered his career.
“But Warnock has taken a chance on him; maybe he has to nurse him through training sessions, but he’s clearly getting the best out of a player who has not lost his ability through injuries.”
Warnock’s options were limited following the close of the transfer window in October, and he wouldn’t have expected Watmore to have made the impact he has done already.
Like any winger in the Championship, he won’t be the most consistent player, but Watmore is showing no signs of the injury issues he’s suffered with in recent years and he could end up becoming a key player for Boro this season.
That’s if he sticks around, as there’s likely to be other suitors interested in him, but there’s reasonable expectation amongst Middlesbrough fans that he will pen a longer-term extension.