David Watson is Kilmarnock's Lewis Ferguson as Derek McInnes ranks him alongside 2 Aberdeen gems

Kilmarnock's David Watson was crowned PFA Young Player of the Year -Credit:Ross MacDonald
Kilmarnock's David Watson was crowned PFA Young Player of the Year -Credit:Ross MacDonald

Derek McInnes admits he’d be shocked if there wasn’t interest in David Watson this summer.

And the Kilmarnock boss insists the midfielder shares the same characteristics of two of his greatest proteges Scott McKenna and Lewis Ferguson. McInnes was delighted to see the teenager scoop the PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year gong last weekend and follow that up with a nomination for the Scottish Football Writers’ award too.

And while he hopes the midfielder sees his immediate future at Rugby Park, McInnes reckons Killie should brace themselves for interest. McKenna and Ferguson both flourished under McInnes at Aberdeen before moving on for seven figure fees to Nottingham Forest and Bologna. And McInnes said: “I think we should expect speculation about David. Expect clubs being more than aware of him. Bigger clubs than us. That’s the way it goes. I’d be surprised if there wasn’t.

“He’s just turned 19 and still has so much to do. When you look at a lot of younger players I’ve worked with who have gone into first teams and been mainstays like Scott McKenna and Lewis Ferguson then they all had a certain quality - a brilliant work ethic and determination but also a physicality that could deal with the demands of the Premiership.

“David has that, he’s become stronger and more confident. He’s always known what he’s good at and what he needs to improve on. Sometimes knowing your limitations and what you need to improve is a big part of it.

“He’s been a breath of fresh air. First and foremost he’s tough to play against and that’s without even him being at his best.

“So when he does perform, gets his goals and runs beyond people then there’s a real level of trust in young David and similar to your McKennas and Fergusons in having trust in any player is vitally important. We have that in him. And the supporters have really taken to him.”

Watson won the PFA Scotland award at the weekend after a season in which he’s played 42 times in a side that is sitting fourth and already clinched European football.

He could make ti a double with the SFWA award where he is shortlisted with Motherwell’s Lennon Miller, Aberdeen midfielder Connor Barron and Dundee’s Lyall Cameron.

And McInnes, himself shortlisted for the SWFA manager’s award, said: “It’s just brilliant, what a story it is. A lot of managers speak to me about him, people in the street, supporters from other clubs, they always make reference to wee Watson.

“He is a credit to his family. He is their boy but we feel like he’s ours to be honest, he’s been around the club for so long. We were so proud when he picked up his award. The fact he has been recommended by the sports writers as well is fantastic.

“He’s in good company with the nominees around him and to come out on top (of the PFA award) is fantastic. There’s been a lot of top players who have won that and gone on to have top careers.

“I think he will be another one. He’s been a fantastic story for us and for the academy - a real flagship player for that. We’ve signed a few more players since David established himself in the team and he is a great way of canvassing and getting these boys to sign.

“We are confident we can keep more young players at Killie. A couple we have agreed over the last wee while that we have high hopes for.

“Davie is one we’d like to hang about a bit longer. We understand the market and if there’s offers come in as I expect it’s something we’d have to look at. But we don’t want to lose him. He’s a credit to himself and he’s only going to get better.”