Ex-U's stalwart is frustrated onlooker

KEVIN Watson will be a frustrated spectator this evening as his current and former clubs come face-to-face in an intriguing Johnstone's Paint Trophy southern area semi-final.

Carl Marston

KEVIN Watson will be a frustrated spectator this evening as his current and former clubs come face-to-face in an intriguing Johnstone's Paint Trophy southern area semi-final.

At least it will take his mind off his own injury woes - the 34-year-old continues to be plagued by a career-threatening calf injury.

Watson spent four seasons at Colchester United, giving terrific service for the first three years before his calf problems kicked in last term.

The central midfielder was hoping for a change of luck at new club Luton Town, but he has only started two league games due to ongoing injury.

“I just can't shake it off. Every time I make a comeback, I end up back at square one,” rued Watson last night.

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“I came back at Southend (FA Cup tie) last month after seven weeks out and just three days of full training. I played the full 90 minutes but my calves were screaming by the end.

“I just about hung on during the warm-down on the following day, but then had another game on the Tuesday (against Bournemouth). The pain in my right calf was unbelievable.

“It was the same scenario during my last season at Colchester. I had about three comebacks. I've had scans and ultra-sound, but it's not cured the problem.

“Basically, when the muscle in the calf expands, the sheath around it does not, so it constricts the muscle. I'm going to have tests on it later this week, which won't be pleasant because I'll be running on a treadmill while they put needles in my calves to find out where it's under pressure.

“It might be that I need surgery to slit the sheath, but to be honest it's not looking great,” added Watson.

Ex-Tottenham trainee Watson will be watching from the stands at Kenilworth Road tonight, although there will be Colchester connections in the Luton dug-out and on the pitch.

Hatters manager Mick Harford, who was an assistant to Geraint Williams at Layer Road, has seen his side wipe out 24 points from a pre-season 30-point deficit, levied as punishment for going into administration and other financial irregularities.

Luton are now on minus six points, steadily closing in on the teams above them as they attempt to cheat relegation out of the Football League.

Striker Wayne Andrews, who starred for the U's during the 2003-04 campaign, is one of the most recent signings. The 31-year-old was recruited from Coventry City in October, after recovering from a long-term knee injury.

Watson confirmed: “We have never had the feeling that we would be relegated this season. We are not a bottom-of-the-table team.

“Mick (Harford) has assembled a good squad. There is a real mixture of youth and experience, although several of us older guys are out injured at the moment.

“Wayne Andrews arrived a couple of months ago and he started for the first time last Saturday. He did well.

“In our last two games, we have beaten Barnet and drawn 0-0 at league leaders Wycombe. Perhaps teams are under-estimating us because we are bottom, but that's all down to the financial irregularities with the previous regime, not down to our football.

“I think it's going to be a good game. A successful season for us would be to avoid relegation, and get to Wembley in this competition. Mick (Harford) has been saying that he wants to win it all along.

“You can take it or leave it in the early rounds of this competition. Clubs often field weaker teams and only three men and a dog turn up to watch.

“But we are now at the stage where teams are thinking about going to Wembley,” added Watson.

Watson played 154 senior games for the U's, following previous lengthy spells with Tottenham, Swindon, Rotherham and Reading.

He left the club when the U's moved from Layer Road last summer, but he is not too surprised by the Essex club's struggle to win games (just two) at the new Community Stadium.

“It was like that at Reading when we moved to the new ground (Madejski Stadium),” explained Watson.

“The new ground can become a little bit of a burden. Teams used to like coming to Reading, and they enjoyed playing there.

“The same is probably the case at Colchester and their nice new stadium. But I'm sure that last weekend's win at Leeds will give them great heart,” concluded Watson.