PAUL Watson has set his sights on reaching the Scottish Premiership after signing with Dunfermline Athletic.

The defender, from Haddington, was surprisingly released by Dundee United after the Tannadice side reached the top flight of Scottish football.

Now, Watson is determined to put that disappointment behind him and secure a second consecutive promotion.

Robbie Neilson, who has since swapped the managerial hot seat at Dundee United for a return to Hearts, made the decision to let the 29-year-old go.

Watson said: “The manager told me they had another target in mind. That was a bit disappointing but you just need to move on and get over it.

“I loved my time there, especially reaching the Premiership.

“I had been close to winning it a few times and to not be part of the team in the top flight was disappointing but I am looking forward to Dunfermline.”

The coronavirus and shutdown of Scottish football had prevented Dundee United from wrapping up the Championship title on the pitch.

Watson and his team-mates were 14 points clear of second placed Inverness Caledonian Thistle, with a quarter of the season left, when football came to a halt. However, the league title was awarded to them, with Watson and Declan Glass, from Tranent, among the squad celebrating the title win.

Watson said: “Not getting to celebrate it was hard.

“It was inevitable we were going to win it; we were that far ahead.

“The biggest disappointment was not getting to celebrate it fully with my team-mates and the fans around Dundee.”

For Watson, it represented an impressive feat and means he has now won three of Scotland’s top four leagues.

Previously, he won the Scottish Third Division and Scottish Second Division with Livingston in 2009-10 and 2010-11.

He said: “Just the Premiership next!

“I won those titles when I was a young lad and I never forget Liam Fox [Livingston’s captain] said ‘you’ve won a couple of leagues’ – and I won the Ramsdens Cup with Raith Rovers – ‘some players that does not happen to’.”

The Championship success finally came after three times coming tantalisingly close to reaching the top flight.

Twelve months ago, he was part of the Dundee United team that suffered penalty shootout heartache against St Mirren.

Meanwhile, in 2017, the Terrors were victorious over Watson’s Falkirk team in the play-offs, and 12 months earlier the Bairns lost in the play-off final to Kilmarnock.

Now, Watson, who played for Haddington Star and Longniddry Villa before moving to Hutchison Vale and then onto Ipswich Town at just 15 years old, is looking to add to his medal collection with East End Park outfit Dunfermline.

The defender was quick to praise his new manager, former Scotland internationalist Stevie Crawford, for convincing him that his future lay with the Pars.

The former Knox Academy pupil said: “Once, I met the manager, the decision was an easy one to make.

“The manager played a big, big part in it. I can speak very highly of him after meeting him and just the way he wants to play.”