Kilmarnock aims to have its own training facility ready for action within the next five years.  

If ever there was a shining example of why that project, funded by Billy Bowie, is so important, the emergence of David Watson provides exactly that. 

The 18-year-old has been outstanding in Killie’s last two matches against St Johnstone and Hearts, both of which he started. The Prestwick teen comes from a footballing family, with his mum having represented Scotland and his dad turned out several times at junior level. 

The midfielder has been nothing short of a revelation, coming into the side at a crucial point in the season where Premiership survival is key.  

Killie have a few exciting prospects in their academy at the moment. While holding onto them is proving a challenge, Derek McInnes is certain that the training ground will help to lay the groundwork for even more talented teenagers coming through the youth system, like Watson.

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“That’s exactly the conversation I’ve had with Billy,” McInnes said. “We want to be in a position to be able to keep our best young players.  

“We’re fighting tooth and nail to keep one that we’re probably going to lose at the minute. We lost Charlie McArthur to Newcastle. We lost a couple of others prior to me coming in to the Premier League.  

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“We want to try to create an environment where they don’t want to be looking for anything else. We want to be giving ourselves the best chance of developing as many youngsters as possible. 

“Also, for me to be able to maximise our budget, especially as a club like Kilmarnock. The more younger ones you can have coming through the ranks, then the more you should have to spend in the market. You get the best of both worlds and you’re creating value with your own players, then you’re able to get more value for money with the budget.  

“It’s important to try to hang on to your best players, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult.  

“David’s one that we’d always identified as one that we would eventually be a Kilmarnock regular in the first team. Right from when we came in last January, he immediately came in and trained with the first team.  

“He’s one that we feel has really grown in that last wee while. Physically, for an 18-year-old, he’s in pretty good nick. That goes along with his determination and his desire to do well. He can do a bit of everything in there.  

“To play in the Premiership at 18 week in, week out is a big demand. The strength of his recently has really allowed him the best chance to cope and he’s done very well for us.  

“Fans also love to see a young player coming in. I’m conscious that we’d like to get more younger players in. But they’ve got to be ready for it and they’ve got to have earned it. There’s no point in putting them in for a PR exercise. He’s certainly shown he’s way more than that.” 

Additionally, it’s understood the Rugby Park club are trying to tie Bobby Wales down on a longer contract, but there is no further movement on that deal yet.