JACK ROSS admits Duncan Watmore is hugely frustrated at his latest injury setback, but is confident the winger’s “resilience” will enable him to play a major role in Sunderland’s promotion push.

Watmore will miss most of the next month after suffering a recurrence of a thigh injury last week, with his latest problem extending a period of almost three years that has been plagued by injury setbacks.

The 25-year-old has undergone two bouts of knee ligament surgery, and also suffered a series of niggling issues that have hampered his attempts to force his way back into Sunderland’s first team.

As a result, he has managed just seven league starts since December 2016, and while his latest problem is not serious, it has nevertheless added to his frustrations.

“He’s frustrated because he’s had this thigh injury, but he was able to train at the start of (last) week and looked good,” said Ross. “But he just felt uncomfortable after training (last) Tuesday.

“I’d imagine he’ll miss the next two to three weeks again at least, and then we’ll go from there. It’s difficult for him because it’s been very stop-start for him for a long time.”

Watmore’s only appearance of the current campaign came when he left the bench as Sunderland drew with Oxford United on the opening weekend, and he had hoped a relatively trouble-free pre-season would mark the start of a change in fortunes.

Instead, he finds himself back on the treatment table, but having battled his way back from two potentially career-ending knee injuries, he should have no trouble dealing with his latest issue.

After that, it remains to be seen whether he can stay injury free. His record over the last few months suggests his lengthy absences have created weaknesses in various parts of his body, but Ross sees no reason why he should not eventually return to the kind of form that earned him a series of appearances with England Under-21s and led to predictions that he might eventually progress to be a full international.

“He’s proven he’s resilient,” said the Sunderland boss. “This is relatively minor but it’s still very frustrating for him because I imagine by the time he comes back from this we’ll be six, seven weeks into the season, which is disappointing for him.

“It’s a difficult part of the industry. When you have the two serious (injuries), that’s a challenge but I think he’s come through that. Then, of course, if you pick up other injuries that maybe ordinarily wouldn’t affect you as much it is difficult. I speak to him a lot, but if truth be told, you can assist players, and we do that, but they have to deal with the challenges that fall their way in their own way.”