DUNCAN WATMORE is set to miss the rest of the season after undergoing cruciate ligament surgery earlier today.

Watmore damaged his cruciate ligaments for the second time in a year during last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Millwall.

With scans having confirmed the damage, the England Under-21 international had an operation this morning and unlikely to be available until the end of the summer at the earliest.

“Duncan had the surgery today,” confirmed Sunderland boss Chris Coleman. “It’s as we feared. It will be another long one for him unfortunately. Forget me or us, it’s him. He’s a young man with a real good career in front of him.

“He’s a real good guy and loves his football and he’s going to be absolutely devastated. We have to look after him, however long it takes. He’ll be back, I’m sure about that.”

Having suffered his first cruciate injury last December, Watmore spent more than nine months battling his way back to full fitness.

He will now have to go through exactly the same process again, but while it might not feel like it at the moment, Coleman is confident the experience will make him a better player in the future.

“I was speaking to Andy Croft who used to play with Wales with us, and he did his knee, got back and did it again,” said the Black Cats boss. “He said the mental side was harder than the physical.

“When you get through it, it does make you better, it probably makes you more aware of how lucky we are to be in this industry. We are all playing football at the end of the day, and it’s the best job in the world. He will respect it even more, and he’ll be better when he gets back, I’m positive about that.”

Sunderland travel to Burton Albion on Saturday, with Coleman set to welcome back Lee Cattermole after the midfielder missed Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat at Aston Villa through suspension.

Paddy McNair is also available after having to sit out the trip to Villa Park, but Marc Wilson will once again be absent with a knock and while Didier Ndong has returned from a spell of compassionate leave, Sunderland’s record signing is nursing an injury that will keep him on the sidelines for two or three weeks.

“Catts was suspended so he’s fine and fit,” said Coleman. “Big McNair, on the back of the long-term injury he had, Saturday-Tuesday is too quick. But he should be okay for the weekend, so that’s good news for us.

“Marc Wilson still won’t be available. He had a kick and his calf is still a problem. Ndong is not ready, and he’s probably not going to be ready for two or three weeks. He has an issue with his knee that we need to get right, and we will get it right with the medical team, I’m sure.

“He didn’t play for Gabon when he went away, and then on top of that he had the unfortunate bad news with his family. But there’s an issue with his knee that we need to get right – he should be okay in a few weeks.”