SUNDERLAND manager Jack Ross has described how devastated Duncan Watmore is to have learned he will not play again this season after suffering more injury heartbreak.

Speaking after the Black Cats dealt with awful weather conditions to secure a goalless draw at automatic promotion rivals Barnsley, revealed the talented forward is facing another spell on the sidelines.

Watmore only returned to league football after a two-year double cruciate knee ligament nightmare in December, and now scans have revealed he sustained ankle ligament damage at Wycombe on Saturday.

The 24-year-old was left rocked once again from a Marcus Bean challenge that Ross felt deserved a straight red card during lengthy stoppage-time at Adams Park.

Now Watmore is set to miss the rest of the League One promotion run-in as well as the Checkatrade Trophy final at Wembley against Portsmouth on March 31.

Ross said: “Duncan will most likely miss the rest of the season. We are looking at an 8-12 weeks timescale, even if he comes back before the end he will find it difficult to get up to speed.

“If there is a positive then his knee feels strong and well. It’s a blow for him and us. It’s ankle ligament damage, as a manager you can’t just say he’s great. To use a Scottish term, he is scunnered.

“He has worked for two years out of the game to get back. He has been in a good place. The positive is his knee feels strong. We weren’t pleased with the tackle at the time.”

Sunderland will now be heading into the final ten matches short of another attacking option, given Chris Maguire is also sidelined for the long term.

Midfielder Max Power was asked to play further forward against Barnsley in the supporting role behind lone striker Will Grigg. He had Sunderland’s best chances to win it for the visitors with a chance in each half.

But Barnsley, who are now unbeaten at home for a whole year, had also created some great chances to win it. In the end neither did, so the Tykes remain four points clear of third-placed Sunderland. Leaders Luton are nine ahead of the men from Wearside.

Ross said: “Barnsley would have wanted to win the game, we did too, but a lot of the planning goes out of the window in conditions like tonight, it was incredibly difficult.

“It was really tough to play in it, especially first half. We will take the point and move on, we will be satisfied with the point.

“It was probably as difficult conditions as we have played in all season. When you get a wind it can swirl but when it is as direct as that, Jon McLaughlin’s kicks were almost coming back at him.

“It helped Barnsley in that first half and it was a big out to come away level terms at half-time. It was not easy in an attacking sense after that either, it was a determining factor, you can see the amount of times normal passes went out of play.

“Portsmouth are not far away either, but three teams in this league have had unbelievable seasons. We have come to a team that has not lost at home, like we haven’t, on a good run.

“It makes it challenging for either of us to get promoted. There’s a lot of points to play for, the game didn’t pan out like I thought it would.”

It was the first time Sunderland have not scored this season. Ross added: “We have taken pride in that scoring record, but given the conditions and opponent we will take the point and move on. We had a couple of opportunities. Power’s chance in the first half was a good effort.”

Barnsley manager Daniel Stendel, whose side have the best defensive record in the league, was also relatively happy even though he felt his team should have edged it.

He said: “it was a close game, what we expected. We did have the chances to score in the first half, Sunderland had two chances to score. Who is the best team? I think we were a little better than Sunderland today but nobody scored.

“The wind was stronger in the second half than the first half, we knew it and we spoke about it. In the first half we had the advantage to have more shots from distance in the first half.

“The whole season we have defended very well, we have had a lot of clean sheets and this is good for all of the players in the team. Normally we score and we win, but Sunderland are a good team and both have a chance to get promoted at the end of the season.”