Preston’s youth setup has started bringing through first-team players in recent times, and long may that continue.
Ben Davies is one of the most important players in Alex Neil’s side, whilst Josh Earl has also emerged under the Scot. Ethan Walker became North End’s youngest ever player last season, and looks set for a bright future.
A few have emerged but flown the nest, with Bailey Wright and Josh Brownhill now with Bristol City. Others are lower down in the Football League, such as Reece James, James Weir, Conor McLaughlin, Danny Mayor, Alan McCormack, Chris Neal and Jamie Proctor, whilst we even covered Melle Meulensteen’s journey in the Netherlands yesterday.
Another former North End youngster carving out a career away from Deepdale is Elliot Watt. Born in Preston and a former North End youth, Watt is now with Premier League and Europa League side Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Last week, Wolves confirmed that they have handed Watt a new contract. The midfielder will now still at Molineux until 2021, with the option of another year after that.
Watt, 19, is taking strides towards Nuno Espirito Santo’s first team, and even played in the EFL Cup last season. Wolves appear to rate Watt highly, but how did he make it to this point?
Watt’s roots are in Fulwood, and even went back to his former school, Fulwood Academy, this summer (LEP). Initially on the books of Blackburn Roves, Watt returned home by signing for Preston, but it seems that he wasn’t too keen on a long-term stay.
The Scotland Under-21 international has told Wolves’ official website that he looked set to stay with Preston when he was offered scholarship terms in 2016, but mostly because there wasn’t too much other interest.
In the end, Watt was offered a trial at Wolves, and did enough to eventually earn a contract. Watt even penned a letter to his 14-year-old self last year, and was set on the idea that staying at Preston wasn’t the right idea.
It’s hard to disagree with that decision. He’s now with an ambitious Premier League side, he could appear in the Europa League this season, he’s got great facilities to work with and top coaches to develop under.
A talented midfielder with a bright future ahead of him, it would have been great to see Watt emerge in the Preston first team alongside Earl, Walker and Jack Baxter, as every fans loves to see a homegrown player feature prominently.
However, the main response to Watt’s progress with Wolves is to wish him all the best. Seeing a young player from Preston hit the big time would be great, and his new contract takes him another step closer to that goal.
Watt’s progress is a sign of the exciting talent within the city, and North End will be hoping that local talents like Walker and Baxter feel they can fulfil their potential at Deepdale rather than have to move on like Watt did.