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Gianfranco Zola confident on Watford's Championship prospects ahead of home match against Doncaster Rovers
Gianfranco Zola is "100 per cent sure" Watford will be challenging at the top of the Championship come the end of the season but he is expecting a tough test against Doncaster Rovers tonight.
Going into the match at Vicarage Road, the Hornets sit eighth in the Championship and seven points behind league leaders Blackpool.
It has been a stuttering start for Zola's side but the Watford head coach insists he is not worried about the table and remains confident about his team's prospects for the campaign.
"I believe we have two points more than this time last year so I know the expectations are bigger and there are people who would like to see us in a different position but I don't care too much about the position right now," Zola said.
"What is important is that we get better individually and as a team and it will take time, there's no doubt about that.
"But I'm 100 per cent sure this team will be up there at the end challenging for the top places.
"We have already seen some spells of what this team can do - we will get it right soon, how soon I don't know - I don't have a crystal ball, but it will be soon."
Watford switched from their more familiar 3-5-2 formation to 3-4-2-1 against Charlton Athletic on Saturday and while Zola admits the system didn't work perfectly, he says it is an advantage to be tactically versatile.
The Hornets boss also suggested the absence of Almen Abdi, who is nursing a foot injury, was significant.
"I thought it was the right thing to do and I still remain of the same opinion," he said. "It is a system that has potential in certain matches and I will use it again when it is the right moment.
"It is good to have different systems which we can use depending on the opposition, it is about using the right players at the right moment or at different times in a game.
"I certainly know more now about that system and if we play it again someone like Almen Abdi is very important because he can hold the ball and dictate the tempo of the game which is something I think we were missing a bit on Saturday.
"There are other factors but that is something that would certainly help the performance but it's not just because Almen was missing, we've had problems playing other systems too. It's just one game, we are still a work in progress and we need to get better."
Abdi is not expected to return against Doncaster tonight but Zola remains hopeful the midfielder may return before Saturday's trip to Barnsley. Iriney is also struggling with a foot injury but Joel Ekstrand is available after recovering from an illness.
Zola said: "Abdi still has a few problems with his foot and we are sorting it out but it's not looking good for Doncaster. We hope he might be available for the weekend but we don't know at the moment.
"Joel Ekstrand is back and fit for selection. Iriney has got an issue with his foot as well but it's getting better and we will make a decision."
Doncaster have only won one of their opening five matches in the league but Zola is not expecting an easy ride.
"Doncaster are one of the promoted teams and they will be very enthusiastic and determined and they will show that," he added.
"They will be difficult to beat, there's no doubt about that and we will have to play a very good game if we want the three points. But I like a challenge so I'm looking forward to the game."
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