Why Wigan Athletic have Steve Bruce to thank for defender deal

Former Wigan Athletic manager Steve Bruce played a key role in Kell Watts' move to the DW on a season-long loan from Newcastle.

Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 5:16 pm
Updated Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 5:18 pm
Kell Watts heads for goal against Doncaster

The young defender has been a revelation since joining Latics last month, forming a formidable partnership at centre-back with Jack Whatmough.

And he's revealed his decision to swap the north east for the north west was influenced by Bruce, who enjoyed two stints here as Latics boss.

"All pre-season, the gaffer at Newcastle was great in terms of ringing around and trying to get me the best move," said Watts, who is on his fourth loan, after previous spells at Plymouth, Mansfield and Stevenage.

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"He was always just saying he wanted what was right for me and if that never came up, he didn't want to rush anything or push anything.

"I think a couple of offers in the Championship weren't as concrete or didn't seem as appealing in terms of going there.

"They might have been struggling or whatever in the division.

"Then, when Wigan came in, with the people who came through the door, the management team that's in place and the history of the club, I was excited by that one and dug deeper and got everything sorted with it as quickly as I could."

Bruce and Newcastle have been keeping tabs on the 21-year-old via loan manager Shola Ameobi, who Watts says has played a key role in him settling down so quickly.

"Shola is good in terms of keeping in contact," Watts told ChronicleLive. "He's played at the highest level for years and years so we have great chats.

"It's not always when it's going well; when it's maybe not, he's always on the phone and dropping lines in with some great pieces of advice.

"Even the lads at Newcastle, like the senior lads, have been on the phone to me asking me how it's going so far.

"I was just on the phone to Matt Ritchie the other night. He gave me a ring to ask how I was doing and how I was getting on.

"He's really good. He was playing left wing-back and, at Newcastle, I was left of a back three so we have that sort of relationship.

"He's always talking and is a man of high standards, but that's why he's played in the Premier League for so many years.

"You feel that connection and you know they're rooting for you to do well.

"It's not that you're away and you come back and no one really knows what's been happening.

"You can see they're following and wanting you to do well."

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