Watford will make at least two changes to their Premier League squad when the winter transfer window reopens, according to the agent of Troy Deeney.
The Hornets, along with the other 19 clubs in the top flight, resubmit their squad when the window closes at the end of January and Michael Ricketts, the former England international who represents Watford’s captain, expects a couple of changes. Deeney has said publicly he was made aware of the summer signings Watford were planning to make after speaking to the owner Gino Pozzo at the end of last season.
“January will be an interesting window,” said Ricketts in an interview with From The Rookery End podcast on Saturday. “I think he’ll make a couple of changes to the squad.”
The Hornets submitted 24 names to the Premier League at the beginning of September, instead of the maximum 25, and have their full quota (17) of permitted foreign players. They do have scope to sign a home-grown player without needing to remove anyone, but Scott Duxbury, the chief executive, told talkSPORT in August how inflated prices for those players made them baulk and forced them to do most of their business in the European market, where their scouting network is so strong.
The club could create room in the squad for two new foreign signings by delisting Essaid Belkalem and the out of favour Jose Holebas but the two defenders would, ideally, be sold or loaned otherwise the club are saddled with the wages of two players unavailable until the window reopens in the summer. Joel Ekstrand, who is nearing full fitness, could take one of their spots.
Lloyd Dyer, who is only willing to leave if a suitable permanent move arises, and Connor Smith, who is out of contract in the summer, could also be removed from the list but that would only make sense if viable home-grown replacements who add value to the squad are found.
Watford, we were told last month, do not anticipate being one of the more active clubs in January, confident they did the bulk of their recruiting in the summer. Four of their 15 buys have yet to start a competitive match and the recruitment team are mindful of not further stockpiling players who need a period of time to be integrated into the head coach’s way of doing things. Any signings will need to be experienced and capable of hitting the ground running. Another striker and a goalkeeper, to compensate for the loss of Rene Gilmartin, should be among the priorities.
“The only thing I worry about Watford is the depth and strength on the bench, especially the attacking options to help out Troy and Ighalo,” said Ricketts who struck up a relationship with Deeney during their time together at Walsall.
Sanchez Flores, who is risk averse, is not renowned for making attacking substitutions, which may be down to his perceived lack of options. Obbi Oulare was close to being handed his first-team debut on Saturday, nearly three months after signing from Club Brugge, but he sat back down on the bench after Deeney rammed in the equaliser from the spot.
“We haven’t seen him [Oulare], we are still waiting to see him,” said Ricketts who thinks the Hornets will “stay up easily”. “I think the bench needs to be addressed as when the games are tight you still need someone to come on and help you out.”
Emmanuel Adebayor, anyone?
Listen to the full interview with Ricketts:
- Main image via BT Sport