Watford boss Gianfranco Zola says injury problems in defence led to move for Fulham's Matthew Briggs
Gianfranco Zola confirmed Watford are close to signing Fulham defender Matthew Briggs due to the Hornets' ongoing injury problems at the back.
The Italian did, however, add that the club were interested in signing Briggs before their latest run of injuries in defence.
Watford have been without centre backs Fitz Hall, Tommie Hoban and Neuton in recent weeks and the club, who usually play with three in defence, were keen to sign another defender.
This afternoon Zola told the Watford Observer: "We are interested in him and we are just finishing the loan. The reason why we want to sign him is because we have problems at the back.
"Tommie Hoban is out and we don’t know how much longer that will be for and also we have Fitz Hall who is still out injured. We also have Sergio Neuton out.
"So in that position we need a bit more support, that is why we have considered him.
"He is a defender who can play in the middle, we also don't have a left-footed central defender and that is why we have moved to sign him."
We understand Briggs will be due at the Hornets' London Colney training ground later today ahead of the move but he will not be available for tomorrow's televised game against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Speaking at around 3pm this afternoon, Zola said: "We are working on trying to sign him until the end of the season but if things don’t go well then I think Fulham have the possibility of a recall. But I’m not a 100 per cent sure of the details to be honest."
Watford were attempting to sign another left-sided player in January as competition for Daniel Pudil, and made unsuccessful moves for Hull City's Robbie Brady and Manchester City's Jeremy Helan.
With Pudil out in recent weeks due to illness, right-sided winger Ikechi Anya has been filling in on the opposite flank. Briggs has played in a similar role in the past so there was an assumption by some that he was signed to play in the left of midfield.
But Zola said: "He can play in that position but he is not coming in for that position - he is coming more for the middle position.
"At the moment we only have Nyron Nosworthy, Lloyd Doyley and Joel Ekstrand - plus Marco Cassetti can play there if necessary but he would be slightly out of position."
The Fulham website describes Briggs as primarily a left back but adds he has "desirable attributes at both ends of the pitch. He can defend but he’s also extremely comfortable on the ball; he has pace, can pass, is athletic and can get up and down the pitch."
Briggs became the youngest player to feature in a Premier League game when he came on as a substitute against Middlesbrough in 2007.
Fulham boss Martin Jol seems to rate the player, who can also fill in at centre half, as the 21-year-old has made six starts and two substitute appearances for the Cottagers this season, either side of his four-game loan with Bristol City in November.
Briggs has made 27 appearances for Fulham since his debut as a 16 year old and also had brief spells on loan at Leyton Orient in 2010 and Peterborough United last year.
He has represented England at Under-16, Under-17, Under-19, Under-20 and Under-21 level.
Briggs was part of the England Under-19 squad who reached the final of the European Championship in 2009 and he also travelled to the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Egypt that year.
Zola said: "I saw him playing and I like him; he has the type of qualities that means he can do well in our team and in our system. Obviously it’s not only me who has seen him, we have a lot of scouts who have seen him play many times and he is a player that we had in mind even before [the injuries].
"He has got experience in the Premier League and the Championship so we are talking about a player who knows what the job is."