24-y/o free agent reportedly interests Michael Appleton

Credit Graham Burrell

It’s been a busy day for news and rumour, and it hasn’t stopped yet.

Football League World chief editor Sam Rourke is reporting that the Imps are one of three clubs eyeing a move for right-back Tennai Watson. Sam, who is a Reading fan, suggests that Blackpool and Salford are also interested in adding the player to their ranks.

24-year-old Watson is a free agent after leaving Reading this summer. He was a late starter in football, joining the Berkshire side at the age of 15 and coming through their academy. He appeared three times in the Championship in 2016/17, and was ahead of Sean long in the pecking order which led to his move to the Imps. That early promise wasn’t build upon, and Watson didn’t make a first-team appearance for the Royals in three seasons, although the 2017/18 season was blighted by injury.

Instead, he moved out on loan, joining AFC Wimbledon in 2018/19, a move he claimed was designed to get him more first-team football. “I weighed up my options,” he said after joining the Wombles. “I could have stayed and tried to fight my way into the first-team squad, but I always had the thought in the back of my mind that it was time to branch out and get more experience. I wanted to play men’s football, which is very different from academy football. Even when you’re around the first-team squad, you don’t get that game fitness of playing regularly.”

Tennai Watson :: Tennai Rosharne Watson :: Reading

He started 22 games for them in League One, before returning to the Royals. He was back in our division last season, but appeared sporadically for Coventry City, with four EFL Trophy starts and just one game in League One. This season his football has been limited to two outings for Reading, oddly both against Luton. He got just one minute of Championship football though, that coming on Boxing Day.

Looking at his Wyscout page, it seems Watson is a dedicated right-sided defender, capable of playing at right wing-back too. He has appeared at right centre back for Reading Under 23s, notably against Leeds United.

Another interesting aspect for me is his qualifications. He sat his A-Levels at Langley Grammar School, ending up with an A in Maths, and a B in both Philosophy and Psychology. Whilst those don’t help you as a player in terms of ability, it is topical. Bukayo Saka also boasts good exams results, and it was noted during last night’s Euro 2020 game that he is a joy to work with as he takes information on board and understands coaches instructions perfectly. It isn’t a prerequisite to have such qualifications, but it does point towards the type of person Watson could be.

I can already hear some fans thinking ‘underwhelming’, but no player should be judged without him having pulled on a shirt, that’s if we are in for him at all. Where he fits in could be the big question, would he be back-up to Regan Poole, or does Michael have a master plan? We certainly need competition for places at right-back, and perhaps Tennai Watson is the man to provide that.,