Two-goal Duncan Watmore delights Middlesbrough boss Neil Warnock
Neil Warnock paid tribute to Duncan Watmore after the injury-plagued forward scored his first two Middlesbrough goals in his side’s 2-1 Championship win over Swansea.
Watmore joined Boro as a free agent last month, having been released by Sunderland earlier in the summer after Phil Parkinson opted not to offer him a new contract at the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland’s loss has proved Middlesbrough’s gain, and after recovering from two cruciate ligament injuries that sidelined him for the best part of two years, Watmore will be hoping his match-winning brace signals a much-needed change of fortune.
Warnock said: “Duncan’s a gem of a lad. He’s come in, and even though we didn’t pay him for a few weeks he wanted to come here.
“He got good offers financially to go away to all sorts of places – he could have gone to India or South Africa – but he loved it here. It was great to give him a short-term deal.
“There’s probably only him in our team that would have scored the goal. It’s not easy going through like that. All credit to him, I thought he worked his socks off.”
Watmore was only handed a deal to the middle of January when he signed last month, and while Warnock insists it is too early to start talking about a longer-term contract, there has to be a good chance the 26-year-old will be retained for at least the remainder of the season.
Warnock said: “It’s only one game. Let’s wait and see a little bit. He was the type of player we were looking at, that’s why I asked about him. We haven’t got anyone like that.
“We’re looking for good wide players, in his case he can play up front as well. He gives us a bit of both. He’s responsible, he works hard, in training he covers more ground than anyone else.
“He deserves tonight, we gave him a round of applause in the dressing room. He deserves it for what he’s been through, the horrendous injuries he’s been through. He’ll go home and he’ll be on cloud nine tonight.”
Swansea boss Steve Cooper was in a much more downbeat mood after admitting his side got they deserved for a below-par performance.
Cooper said: “It’s disappointing. From the start, I thought we weren’t ourselves and in the end we didn’t manage to improve.
“We gave away two really poor goals and probably didn’t create enough either so there’s not many positives to take out of the game, that’s for sure.
“I’m disappointed, the players are disappointed, they know we’ve dropped our standards tonight and they know we fell short. If you don’t play anywhere near your level, you’re going to get punished. Unfortunately, it’s self-inflicted I must say, but that’s what happened tonight.”