Watson’s ready for ‘tough’ return

Ben Watson in action for Latics - now he faces them as a Watford player
Ben Watson in action for Latics - now he faces them as a Watford player

BEN Watson admits tonight’s return to Wigan will be ‘a tough one’ for him – and not just during the 90 minutes.

The 29-year-old will be back on familiar soil as Watford visit the DW for a crucial clash at both ends of the Championship.

It’s going to be strange coming back to Wigan so soon after leaving

Ben Watson

Latics are hoping to cut the gap between themselves and safety to just three points, while the Hornets could go top of the division with a positive result.

And Watson, who moved to Vicarage Road during the January transfer window, will have to maintain his focus before the game to make sure he enters the right dressing room.

“It’s going to be strange coming back to Wigan so soon after leaving,” he told the Evening Post.

“It’ll be weird going into the away dressing room as a member of the away team.

“I was proud to be a part of Wigan Athletic for six-and-a-half years and it will always remain a massive part of my life.” Despite being a key part of Watford’s promotion push, Watson has kept a close eye on events at the DW in the weeks since his departure.

“It’s always the first result I look for, and it was a great result for them at Rotherham on Saturday,” he acknowledged.

“If they’d lost it might have left them with too much to do, but they’ve picked up some great results away from home in recent weeks and really showed they’re up for the fight.

“It’s a massive game for both sides. Both sides are desperate to win for different reasons.

“That should mean it’s a wide-open game, end-to-end stuff and really entertaining to watch.

“We try to score as many goals as we can – we certainly won’t be coming to defend.”

While Latics were holding on for a crucial three points at Rotherham, Watson and Watford were hammering Reading 4-1 to move up to second in the table.

“It’s gone great so far at Watford, I couldn’t have asked for any more,” Watson recognised.

“We’re in a great position now and we want to push on and finish the job.

“I obviously knew Watford were going for promotion when I signed, but I knew after the first game how good a side it was.

“We were 2-0 down against Blackpool at half-time, and responded with seven goals in the second half to win 7-2.

“That showed the quality we have – I think we’re the second top scorers in the Championship behind Bournemouth.”

Latics chief Malky Mackay reckons Watford hotshot Troy Deeney is the premier striker in the Championship, although Watson says the 26-year-old is far from their only threat.

“Troy’s the captain and he leads by example out there,” admitted Watson.

“But he’s not the only one. He’s one of four strikers who can all put the ball in the net, and that gives us the luxury of knowing that, if it’s not happening for him, there are others who can step up.”

All eyes will inevitably be on Watson tonight when the two teams take to the field, and the FA Cup-winning hero is surely guaranteed a positive welcome from the home supporters.

“I hope it’s a good reception,” said Watson, who recently extended his deal at Watford for a further two seasons with an option for a further 12 months.

“The fans were always great with me during my time at Wigan.

“I’ve got nothing but respect for the way they treated me, and it will be a tough one for me to be running out as an opposition player.”

He’s also keeping his fingers crossed for a big personal double come the end of the campaign – with Watford and Latics both achieving their respective goals.

“Without a doubt,” he added. “If we could go on to win promotion and Wigan stay up, that would be the ideal scenario for me.”