Hartlepool United keen to extend Keith Watson deal - but budget constraints and recovery could scupper any agreement

Hartlepool United boss Craig Harrison is keen to extend Keith Watson's loan deal until the end of the season.

Tuesday, 19th December 2017, 3:09 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th December 2017, 3:10 pm
Hartlepool United's new signing Keith Watson during the Hartlepool United vs AFC Fylde match in the Vanarama National League match at Victoria Park. Hartlepool on Saturday 26 August 2017 (Photo: Mark Fletcher | Shutter Press) ©Shutter Press

But no concrete decision has been made on the St Johnstone defender’s future, with a number of factors still up in the air.

With budgets tightening at Pools Harrison has been told he must get players off the books before he does any business in the winter window.

That includes the extension of the Scot’s deal, which comes to an end next month.

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Add in the fact Watson is currently recovering from a knee injury, and is yet to have a return date set and the deal is a difficult one to do.

But one thing is for certain, Harrison was suitably impressed by the 28-year-old, formerly of St Mirren and Dundee United.

And he wants to try and get the central defender, who made six appearances at the start of the National League campaign, tied down.

“It’s difficult but we want to extend the loan if possible,” said Harrison, whose side take on Maidenhead United at Victoria Park on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).

“I’ve spoken to St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright a couple of times on the phone and it is all positive.

“It is just really how Keith is feeling with the injury and how it progresses.

“The positive thing is that the last week and half he has been back out on the pitch.

“It is little steps.”

An interesting caveat to the whole Watson saga is that the defender, who has done 95% of his recovery in the North East, including some time at Sunderland’s Academy of Light, is out of contract in the summer.

And should Wright remain at Saints, and not get the Northern Ireland job when Michael O’Neill departs for Scotland, it is highly unlikely Watson will have a future at McDiarmid Park.

“It will be frustrating for him,” said Harrison.

“He’s been out three months and knowing his situation he will be anxious.

“It is double frustration for him but he has never let that show. His professionalism has been second to none.”