Kevin Phillips insisted Duncan Watmore has to be playing regularly if he wants to reignite his career and secure his Sunderland future.

The 2000 European Golden Shoe winner, speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs, claimed the year-old has not been the same player after his knee injury.

Watmore initially damaged his anterior cruciate ligaments in December 2016 but 11 months later ruptured ligaments in the same knee.

The former England under-21 international has been limited to just 22 games this campaign, predominantly used as a substitute.

When asked what the future holds for the winger, Phillips told Football Insider: “He just needs to keep his head down.

“There was talk of him going to a top club and clubs were watching him. He was certainly a player on our radar when I was in coaching.

“Unfortunately, he has got an injury and he does not look like the same player since coming back. How many times do you see that with players?

“He has not played a lot of football so I am not saying he needs to leave the club because Sunderland need to keep him. But if he is not playing week in week out next season…

“He needs to play regularly to find his form. That will be discussed at the end of the season but if you can get him backfiring it would be like having a new signing again.”

Watmore has scored 8 goals in his 87 appearances for the Black Cats.

Phil Parkinson’s side fell out of the League One play-off spots this week as they lost 2-0 away to Bristol Rovers.

In other Sunderland news, Kevin Phillips has told Football Insider he was not surprised star man was dropped by Parkinson.