Real Madrid send letter to injured Sunderland striker Duncan Watmore

Sunderland striker Duncan Watmore's father says his son has been "given a real lift" by an official letter from Real Madrid wishing him a smooth recovery.

Watmore Jr., 23, has had to undergo a cruciate knee operation that will keep him out until next season, having suffered the latest injury just weeks after returning from 10 months out with a similar problem.

On Tuesday, his father -- a former FA chief executive and current England Rugby board member -- revealed that Madrid had sent the ex-England under-21 international a letter of support, signed by their director Emilio Butragueno on behalf of club president Florentino Perez.

"If he was a world famous player maybe you'd expect it," Watmore Sr. told the BBC. "It was totally out of the blue. What an incredible gesture.

"To get the letter was a total surprise but what an incredible gesture from a very classy club. It has given Duncan a real lift. He sent me a picture of it on WhatsApp as he left the training ground and I asked if I could tweet it.

"The reaction has been great. His situation is just awful really. We don't know how long he will be out this time but I would be surprised if he is back before September or October next year."

The family are still unaware of how the letter came to be written and sent, but Watmore Sr. said it may be because his son recently signed up to the Common Goal pledge initiated by Manchester United and Spain midfielder Juan Mata.

"Mata's charity is followed very closely by the Spanish media, so I suspect Real Madrid have picked up on what happened to Duncan that way," Ian said. "Either that or Chris Coleman, his [Sunderland] manager, has said something to Gareth Bale through their relationship at the Wales international level. But for the club to think of him and send a letter is wonderful."