Newcastle United player facing uncertain future has already played a big role in pre-season
The 22-year-old signed a new deal at Newcastle earlier this year and helped Wigan Athletic win the League One title last season.
Watts made his competitive debut for Newcastle as a substitute against Liverpool in 2020 but hasn’t appeared for the first-team since.
In the meantime, he has been making a name for himself out on loan in League One at Plymouth Argyle and Wigan respectively.
The 6ft 4in centre-back has been linked with another move away from Newcastle with Wigan understood to be interested in retaining his services for their Championship campaign.
Although Watts is arguably ahead of Ciaran Clark in the defensive pecking order at Newcastle, the high-profile arrival of Sven Botman is likely to severely limit his first-team opportunities should he remain at the club beyond the summer.
But head coach Eddie Howe has certainly handed Watts a chance to impress so far. The young defender was the only Newcastle player to play the full 90-minutes in the 5-1 behind closed doors friendly match against Gateshead on Saturday.
And he has also travelled with the squad for the pre-season tour of Austria which will see the side face 1860 Munich and Mainz. For the time being, Watts is set to remain a Newcastle player as he looks to leave a good first impression on head coach Eddie Howe.
Speaking after Saturday’s win over Gateshead, Watts said: “Obviously, I got told before the game I’d be playing 90 minutes and I was happy to get more minutes on the pitch and to show the lads how much I’ve improved from my loan spell last year, to show the manager and staff, who I’ve just started working with, just what I’ve got.”
Howe faces a decision on whether to allow Watts leave again or keep him part of the first-team, even if it is as a fourth or fifth choice centre-back.
The defender has spoken highly of Wigan amid talk of a potential return but wants to make the most of his opportunity this pre-season.
“I enjoyed my time at Wigan, winning the league,” he told NUFC TV. “It’s the best thing you can do in football, winning leagues and winning trophies, that’s what I want to do.
"Coming back here it’s been the same as every year. Working as hard as I can and taking each day as it comes.
"I know it’s a bit cliche but it’s all I can do. Put my best foot forward, not overthink things, not over impress just play my game.
"I’ve developed as a player from my first loan when I was 18 to now. Playing a lot of games and getting that winning mentality with Wigan, it was a great group of lads and staff as well.
"Being back [at Newcastle] and just enjoying it. Enjoying the place and working with the new staff, learning every day so I can’t complain
"Thinking back to my first loan spell from this last one – over 100 appearances – I’m much more confident centre-half.
"Going away to Wigan and getting that medal and promotion, you can’t take that away from me and I just want to kick on now and see where that takes me.”