Newcastle United defender spotted in pre-season training amid uncertain future

Eddie Howe and his Newcastle United players have returned for pre-season training.

Kelland Watts was among a number of Newcastle United players to return for pre-season on Friday morning.

Eddie Howe’s squad - excluding those on international duty last month - linked up at Benton as preparations for the 2022/23 campaign got underway.

Spotted in images posted by the club early Friday morning were Callum Wilson, Joe Willock, Jonjo Shelvey, Dan Burn - and Kell Watts.

The 22-year-old returns to Tyneside on the back a very successful loan spell at Wigan Athletic, who were crowned League One champions.

Newcastle United defender Kelland Watts. (Photo by Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images)

And there is a growing expectation that the defender will again spend the upcoming season on loan elsewhere.

The £35million arrival of Sven Botman is set to push Watts further down the pecking order, with Burn, Fabian Schar, Federico Fernandez and even Ciaran Clark, who is still yet to depart United, currently ahead of him.

Watts’ chances of breaking into Howe’s first-team are slim, so it will be best for all parties if the Alnwick-born defender seals another temporary - or perhaps even permanent exit - in the coming months.

The former Plymouth Argyle, Mansfield Town and Wigan loanee signed a new two-year contract with his boyhood club earlier this year having already made over 100 Football League appearances.

Watts made his debut for the Magpies on the final day of the 2019/20 Premier League campaign against Liverpool at St James’ Park.

Reports suggest Wigan are interested in re-signing Watts, while a host of League One clubs have enquired about his availability.