NEWCASTLE United have given the green light for young defender Kell Watts to secure a loan move as suggestions say Wigan Athletic looking into signing him for the second season running.

Watts has fallen further down the defensive pecking order at St James Park following the recent addition of Dutch centre back Sven Botman who has signed a five-year deal with the club for a reported £39 million.

The 22-year-old Watts has spent the last two seasons playing regular first-team football in League One, firstly with Plymouth Argyle and then with the Latics last season. He featured 35 times in a season which saw Wigan go up as League One champions.

Watts chances of breaking into the first-team on Tyneside have been further reduced with Botman’s addition and with Newcastle set to continually invest heavily in their backline, the likelihood is that the defender’s future lies elsewhere.  

With his contract at Newcastle coming to an end in the summer of 2024, the club have time on their hands to cash in on the prospect who has come through the youth set up. However, a loan deal this season looks more likely given how Watts still has time to push his case for the first-team or attract any potential suitors next summer.

Manager Leam Richardson will face competition to bring Watts back to the DW Stadium with a host of League One clubs considering a possible move for the left-footed centre half. However, the next step for Watts’ development would be regular game time at Championship level, something Wigan can offer for next season.

Wigan CEO Mal Brannigan has predicted a ‘quiet and measured’ transfer window for the Latics this summer but admits there are still conversations continuing with club staff about their activity before the start of the season.

Brannigan told Wigan Today: “What you need to do is progress through windows and bring stability to your football club rather than a constant turnover of staff and players. What we also have here is an amazing set of players who achieved exactly what we asked of them last year.

“There’s also that little bit that says: ‘Well done, you deserve to be a Championship footballer now, let’s see how that develops out there’.