Steve Bruce has revealed that returning loanee Kell Watts has left him “privately very pleased” following our first three games of pre-season..
Speaking about the group of U23 talents who’ve featured so far this summer, the NUFC boss has picked Watts out for special praise, believing he’s ‘matured’ following a superb loan spell with Plymouth.
He was impressed by his display at York and feels he looked “at ease” alongside Paul Dummett in Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw against Rotherham, with us largely untroubled defensively after the 6ft 4′ came on in the second half.
Here’s what Bruce has had to say when speaking about Toon talents Kell Watts, Jack Young and Joe White – who made his senior debut earlier this week:
“Look they were delighted in there. I’m sure they will remember their debuts.
“Kell Watts is the one, I was privately very pleased with him after York, and he hasn’t done himself any harm at Rotherham.
“He came on in the second half and I thought him and Paul Dummett looked at ease.
“You can see Kell has now played at EFL level and he has matured.
“It is difficult to make a decision after two or three weeks but he has been good to watch.
“It’s been good to see the three lads on the pitch (Young, Watts, White) who will enjoy their moment.
“I know it’s only a pre-season friendly but for them it’s great to see them playing for their club.”
Watts was one of Plymouth’s standout players during his loan spell in League One last season, being praised for his ability to carry the ball out of the back – something we saw in patches in our pre-season opener at York.
The 21-year-old seems unlikely to stick around for the 2021/22 season, with us having four or five senior centre-backs ahead of him in the pecking order, however it is vital we find him the right loan move this summer.
He can’t go back to U23 football after this and should be making the step up to Championship level, giving loan boss Shola Ameobi a clear mission if Bruce decides he needs another season of senior football.