Hibs beat off competition from EIGHT Football League clubs to sign Duncan Watmore from Sunderland as manager Gus Poyet believes that the chance to play in front of big crowds in Scotland will help the 19 year old to develop his potential.

Watmore made a big impression for Sunderland Under-21s since arriving from non-league Altrincham during the summer, and was handed his first-team debut in the FA Cup third round victory over Carlisle.

Hibs’ manager Terry Butcher who used to manager Sunderland, made a personal check on Watmore in the Under-21s’ 1-1 draw with Stoke City last month, and opted to make a move for the winger.

Poyet believes the chance to play in front of big crowds in the SPL will be more beneficial to Watmore than plying his trade in Leagues One or Two.

Poyet told the Shields Gazette: “It’s a great opportunity for Duncan Watmore to go to Hibernian. He’s impressed me because of where he’s come from, and where he’s playing. To have an opportunity to go to Hibernian is massive, and we couldn’t let it pass. We couldn’t really promise any opportunities for sure here in the first-team.

“There were a few clubs in England who wanted him, and they were easy options because we could have recalled him. But after talking to Terry,(Butcher)  I think it was a unique opportunity for him – to go from where he was one year ago to play proper football.

“There’s pressure and exposure up there with the television. Even in one game against Celtic it’s going to be amazing.”

Photo by John Preece