Northern Echo

WHEN Neil Warnock handed Duncan Watmore a short-term contract to the middle of January last month, he challenged him to produce enough on the pitch to merit the award of a deal until at least the end of the season. After last night’s efforts, the Middlesbrough forward can expect to have a pen in his hand soon.

Watmore’s first two goals in a Middlesbrough shirt handed Warnock the perfect belated birthday present after the Boro boss turned 72 on Tuesday. His first, which came midway through the first half, came with a slice of luck, as his shot took a hefty deflection off Marc Guehi, but there was nothing fortunate about his second, which came midway through the second period, and which was the result of a clinical low finish.

Signed to add something different to Boro’s attacking arsenal, Watmore, who endured two years of injury hell during his time as a Sunderland player, has already come up trumps. His pace and direct running are major assets, and on this evidence, he could play a crucial role in the remainder of the season. Having signed up Paddy McNair to a long-term contract earlier this week, Watmore will surely be next.

No one will begrudge the 26-year-old his success after all he has gone through, with Warnock’s eye for a potential bargain leading him to Watmore’s door when he was searching for a free agent in October. While no one wanted to take a gamble on the former England Under-21 international, Warnock sensed a player with something to prove. His faith has already proved justified.

Watmore’s goals enabled Boro to get back to winning ways after their temporary hiccup at Huddersfield at the weekend, and while Yan Dhanda’s 78th-minute strike set up a somewhat nervy finale, the hosts held on to claim a fully-merited three points.

Gazette/Teesside Live

"It’s only a short-term contract and it’s up to him to show us that he deserves a longer one," said Neil Warnock of Duncan Watmore when the forward signed for Boro.

An assist on his debut wasn't a bad place to start.

Two goals and a matchwinning display a week later, and after a string of new contracts announced by the club in recent weeks, Watmore may well be the next player pictured with pen, paper and proud boss.

His initial short-term contract expires in January but Watmore is certainly going the right way about extending his Boro stay.

After 14 months without a goal, he scored two in the space of 41 minutes to fire Boro to a crucial and impressive victory against play-off chasing rivals Swansea.

Neil Warnock speaks with the media after the midweek win


Neil Warnock enjoyed a belated birthday celebration as Middlesbrough beat Swansea City to close the gap on the Championship play-off places.

Warnock, the EFL's oldest manager, turned 72 on the eve of Swansea's visit to the Riverside.

The man with a record eight promotions in English football on his CV toasted yet another triumph as Duncan Watmore's double gave Middlesbrough victory.

It was only a third defeat of the season for Swansea, who would have gone top of the table with a win but instead drop to seventh having been short of their best in possession.

It was Middlesbrough's night as Watmore, who Warnock signed on a short-term deal last month, scored with a deflected effort before doubling his tally on the break.

The Sun

DUNCAN WATMORE provided a belated birthday gift to Neil Warnock and perhaps an early Christmas present for himself as Middlesbrough downed Swansea.

The 26-year-old struck both goals, his first for the club, as Boro took the points with a 2-1 win over their play-off rivals.

The forward was only signed last month on a deal until January following his release by Sunderland, and he rewarded his manager’s faith with his double-salvo a day after the veteran boss turned 72.

And his match-winning display could be enough to have landed himself a contract extension - although Warnock is refusing to give too much away.

He said: “He’s only had one good game, let’s wait and see.

“We haven’t got anybody like that. He’s responsible, works hard, covers the most ground in training, and he deserved tonight.


First Team