On-loan Premier League man aiming to make most of Wigan Athletic run
Liam Morrison could be out until Christmas after damaging a quad while away on international duty with Scotland Under-21s last week.
That meant Watts getting the call to partner Charlie Hughes at the heart of the defence at Leyton Orient on Saturday.
And the on-loan Newcastle - who won the League One title during a previous season-long spell with Latics two years ago - showed he means to stay in the side with a fine performance in the 1-1 draw.
"I enjoyed the battle," he said. "As a centre-back, I want to win all my duels and then, when we have the ball, I can play, which is my strength.
"It's just nice to be back in the team. Over the last few weeks, I've not been in the team, but I just trained as hard as I could.
"It's a long season and players will be coming in and out all the way.
"Everything we do is as a squad, we had 22 players travel on Saturday, four of whom didn't make the squad.
"We're all pushing for places and being in a position to help the team when we're needed."
On Morrison's misfortune, he added: "Liam's been great all season, unfortunately for him he's got an injury, but that gives me a chance.
"I'm loving it here, I'm loving it at the club, I'm loving living in Wigan, and we're building something really special here."
The Latics rearguard did their job to form a wall in front of goalkeeper Sam Tickle, who was only beaten by a stunning strike from Shaq Forde.
"We know we've got a fantastic goalkeeper behind us, when called upon he can dig us out," said Watts.
"But our main focus - and something the gaffer drills into us every day - is defending as a unit, defending as a whole team.
"And when you see the forward players putting in the effort they do, putting the tackles in up the pitch, it gives you that added incentive to go that little bit extra.
"We know we've got goals in the team, and if we can limit them to very little, we can win games at the other end."
On the result, he added: "There were mixed feelings in the dressing room at the end.
"All the lads were frustrated, we wanted to come away with the three points. But sometimes the game plays itself, and it got very chaotic at the end, it was end to end, and both teams
"In the end, the way the game went, we'll take it as a good point and another one on the board.
"A few weeks ago, that was possibly a game we would have ended up losing. But we're showing the other side of our game, we're matching teams when it gets scrappy, and we're holding our own.
"We're not a team that's built to play long, or play ugly football, that's not what we're about.
"It's about finding that balance, matching other teams and then, when we get the ball, being able to show a bit more composure and quality on the ball."