Under-23: Hinds Joins Hornets
The Hornets have added Kaylen Hinds to their Under-23 squad after the forward signed a one-year contract with the option of an extra year.
Watford already feels like home for the ex-Wolfsburg 21-year-old, who was brought through the ranks just over the fence at Arsenal’s Academy and was recently recognised at London Colney by fellow ex-Gooner Danny Welbeck.
“He was shocked when he saw me,” said Hinds. “He said ‘what are you doing here, you’re supposed to be in Germany’. I told him I’m here now and he said we’d catch up.
“I wouldn’t say I know him well, but we know each other because I trained with the Arsenal first team a couple of times, so we’ve crossed paths.”
Hinds recently made the move back to Hertfordshire after a spell with Wolfsburg. The forward followed his old Academy coach Andries Jonker to the German club in 2017 but found it difficult to settle in the environment.
“It was a very good start, but it just didn’t work out in the end,” he said. “So, I came back to England to start my career off again. You’re away from your family and friends, you’re not doing the normal things you would do back at home.
“I feel much more comfortable here. I feel like I’ll be happy again and this will be a chance to show what I can do. It’s weird as sometimes when I come to training, I’ll see some of the boys from Arsenal on the motorway or something. I know this area well and it feels like home already.”
Hinds was snapped up by Arsenal from Leyton Orient’s Academy as a 14-year-old in 2012, before being part of the England youth setup from the Under-16s until the Under-20s.
Academy Manager Richard Thomas knows Hinds well, as he worked with the forward when he was at Leyton Orient.
“He's got a strong background,” said Thomas. “I remember being part of the staff that sold to him Arsenal from Orient a long time ago and since then he's represented England and might have even captained England. He then went out to Wolfsburg for a couple of million euros, I believe, so he's got good pedigree and I know he has good character.
“He'll be good for us, so it's a great move for the club and himself. He's been at a good level and there is no reason why he can't work his way into the group above us.”
Although he’s followed Welbeck’s path from Arsenal to Watford via England’s youth teams, Hinds said he wouldn’t liken himself to the striker and sees himself as ‘more of an Andre Gray’.
Hinds has been at Watford as a trialist since the beginning of pre-season and the goals have already been flowing in the Under-23s. He scored a cracker in the team’s 5-0 win against Hull City and a dramatic late winner in the 2-1 victory at Sheffield United.
“It felt good,” he said. “I’ve been out of football for 15 months and now I’m back. It feels good scoring again. Hopefully the ‘trialist’ can change to my actual name now. From now until Christmas my main goal is to get my confidence back and start playing to the best of my ability. Then after Christmas to push into the first team or go out on loan.”