John Eustace leads casualty list ahead of trip to Derby County
John Eustace again leads a list of Watford players who are set to miss this weekend’s game with Derby County.
Eustace’s back injury has kept him out of the Hornets’ last three matches and Watford are still deciding on the next course of action.
Fellow midfielder Prince Buaben will also miss tomorrow’s (Saturday’s) trip to Pride Park with his thigh injury and is expected to be out for a few weeks.
Summer signings Alex Geijo and Fitz Hall have both increased their fitness work but this weekend has come too soon, although they should be able to train with the squad next week.
There is also good news for Stephen McGinn as he took part in full training for the first time this season, but is unlikely to feature against Derby.
New signing Geoffrey Mujangi Bia felt tightness in his groin on his debut on Tuesday and is also a doubt for tomorrow.
First-year professional goalkeeper Jack Bonham is also still out with the ankle injury he suffered in pre-season.
Watford tasted defeat in their last game on Tuesday night, losing to League Two Bradford City in the dying minutes, but they have won two of their first three championship matches and Gianfranco Zola is hoping to get back to winning ways.
Zola said: “We thought we did enough after the first goal to win the game (on Tuesday night) but that wasn’t the case.
“But the good thing about football is that you quickly have the opportunity to make up for things and hopefully we will do that on Saturday.”
Zola has tried to implement a passing style since taking charge and has had mixed results; at times they have been superb but on other occasions have lacked a cutting edge in the final third.
The Chelsea legend accepts the changes will take time but believes the system will pay dividends in the long run.
He said: “When you play this style, everyone has to be on the mark. Even if you don’t have the ball, you need to make yourself available and you need to be on the move.
“But once you get into the system, trust me, it is much more difficult for the opposition rather than your own team.”
Watford take on a Derby side who go into the game with doubts over their current top goalscorer – centre-back Jake Buxton.
Buxton has scored three goals in two games this season but has sat out the last two matches due to illness.
Manager Nigel Clough said: “Jake has been very much under the weather with a nasty virus.
“He has done a bit of training this week and we will see what he is like strength-wise later in the week.”
Buxton’s replacement has been James O’Connor, whose performance, along with that of centre-back partner Richard Keogh, was praised by Clough.
The Rams boss was expecting Watford to struggle this season prior to the Pozzos’ takeover but acknowledges that he knows very little about the new Hornets side.
Clough said: “The arrival of new owners and Gianfranco Zola as manager has put a different slant on things because Watford, I think, may have been seen as strugglers this season.
“Sean Dyche did a fantastic job to get them in the top half last season, but new owners have come in and also a lot of new players, so I think people have a different perception of Watford now.
“They are signing some good players and it is making the Championship even more competitive.
“There are not many names we recognise from last season, and they will be getting accustomed to the Championship.
“They have won two of their first three league games and in Gianfranco they have a manager with a great deal of experience as a player. If Watford can get players half as good as he was, they will be alright.”