Yesterday it was announced that one of our very own academy products, Katy Watson, has signed a new contract with Sunderland AFC.
The contract will see Watson finish off her education next summer and then move into a professional contract with Sunderland in the full-time model.
It is a fantastic statement of intent from the club to secure the youngster at Sunderland and offer her a professional contract, considering she is a player with a huge ceiling and already showing us that potential whenever she gets minutes.
️ We are pleased to announce that Katy Watson has signed a new contract with the Club!— Sunderland AFC Women (@SAFCWomen) October 25, 2023
Congratulations, Katy! #SAFCWomen
Watsons’s rise has been astronomical and incredible to witness over the last two seasons. She was initially part of the Sunderland Regional Talent Centre setup, when she was called up to the women’s senior side by Melanie Reay. Despite only being 16 at the time, Watson has developed leaps and bounds since playing competitive football and has already played 39 times in red and white.
Not only has Watson already demonstrated wonderful finesse, technicality and passion, the forward and winger has illustrated her abilities on the international stage via callups to the England U19 side. In fact, just this Tuesday she helped England secure a 2-0 victory over Greece with a goal in the 90+8 minute.
Whilst she may be a young and raw talent, Watson has already shown glimpses of brilliance, intelligence and confidence, illustrating a great trajectory of improvement and refinery in her skills and ability.
Watson is highly agile, changing direction and speed with ease, allowing her to make the most of confined places. She understands how to bring her body over the ball and how to modify angles subtly so that she can burst onto the inside or outside of her opponent at any time.
Her deft mobility isn’t limited to the penalty area, as she can switch between pinning opponents by threatening to attack the goal and peeling away from the defensive line to combine with teammates on the wings.
Watson is much more than a winger/forward. She’s not afraid to go deep or move into the half-spaces. Due to her physique and persistence she is more comfortable occupying opponents and involving teammates in the game than simply waiting for the ball to come to her.
You’ll have a hard time missing Watson throughout a game; she’ll be the one that never stops moving and is always looking to press and close down opposing players. She is quick, nimble, and direct, and she has a penchant for getting into the scoring zone.
Her ability to combine is reflected in how well she weights her first-time passes from any position on the field. As she has extended her use of the outside of her boot and utilising her weaker foot, those combinations have grown more multi-directional.
Her ability to go one-on-one with opponents and beat them remains an important aspect of her attacking game. This is especially effective for an attacking player who frequently runs at disorganised defences in transition, and when combined with good off-ball movement from teammates, it’s a recipe for counter-attacking success.
Watson can offer a spark even in situations where her team has retained the ball and maintained control by taking one or two opposing players out of the game with her exceptional technique.
She also has a wonderful capacity to discover pockets of space in hostile environments. Watson frequently drifts into central areas from a wide right position, while an attacking full back holds the space on the flank.
This ability to find space, combined with her proclivity for looking for and executing crisp one-two passes, makes her a fantastic attacking playmaker whenever she enters the final third.
She is at ease receiving in space, where her initial touch is always positive and directed toward the opposing goal, or when under pressure. Watson’s frame helps her to receive the ball and take defender contact; she also has a low centre of gravity, allowing her to spin away and attack space behind her marker. Watson is a dangerous player because of her agility and suppleness.
Whilst she is still so young, there is a great deal of potential for Watson at this club and can only continue to improve as she gets more opportunities with the senior side and acclimatise to professional football.