Tony Watt has revealed that he has been putting in extra hours at the gym as he embraces Jim Goodwin’s challenge to become faster and more agile by reaching “fighting weight”.
Watt, 29, has been rejuvenated under Goodwin, starting every Championship fixture for Dundee United — mere months after it seemed like his Tannadice career could be over.
However, the former Hearts, Celtic and Motherwell attacker is adamant there is more to come.
I don’t want to be cradled up in the manager’s arms and babied through the season.
And that includes being a more mobile front-man, rather than the bustling, physical forward of recent years.
“The manager has told me he wants even more from me,” Watt said. “He wants me at a certain weight; a certain body fat. I have been comfortable at a weight where I feel fit and strong, but he thinks I can be faster and more agile.
“He has been very in depth about it. The aim is to get right down to my fighting weight, and I want to do that because I believe in what he says to me. I have been training hard and doing extra in the gym.
“I am happy that he is putting demands on me. I don’t want to be cradled up in the manager’s arms and babied through the season.”
Watt wants to hit the goal trail
As well as meeting the physical demands of Goodwin’s heavy-pressing, front-football style, Watt knows he must hit the goal trail.
While a key part of a United side currently on a five-match unbeaten run, he is yet to ripple the net this term.
“I know I need to hit the box a bit more and get a few shots off but that will come,” he added. “The boys are scoring and we are doing well. And I am staying in the team every week, so I must be doing something right!
“But there will be a time where, if I don’t start pulling my weight in front of goal, then the gaffer would have a chance to take me out and I don’t want that.”
Reflecting on Airdrie United apprenticeship
Meanwhile, there will be a hint of nostalgia in the air when Airdrieonians visit Tannadice this afternoon, with Watt having made his senior debut for Airdrie United — as the Diamonds were known at the time — back in 2009.
He notched three goals and an assist in 20 outings before landing a switch to Celtic in 2011.
“I was soaking behind the ears,” laughed Watt. “Jimmy Boyle (ex-Airdrie United manager) always tells the story of when I turned up wearing a pair of floral cargo shorts the day we were meeting for my first game for the first-team.
“He took me into a shop to get me a tracksuit!
“But I went from strength to strength and ended up getting my move (to Celtic).”
Nevertheless, he doesn’t expect a fond reunion with the travelling fans.
“I am disliked by them, too, and I don’t know why — I brought them in six figures, the cheeky sods,” he smiles. “I think it is because I went to Celtic and not Rangers.
“I had never played football before in a professional capacity. It feels like a lifetime ago but that’s where I did a chunk of my growing up as a footballer.”