Keith Watson open to Hartlepool United stay

Keith Watson.
Keith Watson.

Keith Watson would be open to an extended stay at Hartlepool United.

The 28-year-old’s loan deal from St Johnstone runs out this month and issues around the club’s January policy and finances mean extending his spell is far from 100% confirmed.

But Watson has enjoyed his time at Victoria Park, and could quite happily see himself staying for the rest of the National League season.
“I was always wary at first - should I come to England or not?” said Watson of making the summer switch from McDiarmid Park.

“I really didn’t know what to expect. The first game I didn’t get off to the best of starts but then I enjoyed playing against teams you have never played, players you have never seen.

“In Scotland, you play against the same teams and the same players all of the time. You know each other in and out.

“I have liked the fact that’s not the case down here.”

One of the biggest complaints of many a player coming down from north of the border is the travel.

While a ‘long’ trip to Stranraer or Dingwall from Scotland’s central belt will take three hours, eight and nine-hour journeys are not uncommon in English football.

“It has some long bus journeys,” laughed Watson.

“The going down is OK, it’s the coming back that is the nightmare!

“That is something you have to get used to. The furthest trip you will get in Scotland is Dingwall, which is a six-hour round trip. Sometimes down here that’s what it takes to get down for the game.

“The travelling is not too bad as long as you have a decent bus and a good bunch of boys, which is just what we have here.”

Uncertainty is not just prevalent in the short-term for Watson, long-term he has few assurances, too.

His contract with Tommy Wright’s Saints is up in May and Watson knows he is unlikely to be kept on.

One of the most frustrating things about being injured for so long, having missed four months with a knee problem, is that he’s been unable to prove his worth as much as he would have liked.

“It has been frustrating,” said the centre-half, who made a two-goal return to the starting XI v Gateshead on New Year’s Day.

“No team is going to want a player who is not fit.

“I think I have worked really hard to get back fit.

“We didn’t know if I needed an op or not. The specialist decided I didn’t. So it has just been a case of taking it step-by-step.

“The staff and physios here have worked me hard. I would like to thank them for getting me back fit. I have had a few of these in my time so I know what it takes to get back. It’s all worth it in the end, when you’re back out there.

“It is just match fitness for me now. I am fit and have trained. I will only get properly fit with games. It was good to get 90 under my belt.

He continued: “My loan is up in January and contract in the summer.

“It is a big six months for me in terms of my career but all I can really focus on is playing as much football as I can this season.”