Manchester United's Spanish midfielder Juan Mata (R) vies with Watford's Spanish midfielder Jose Manuel Jurado (L) during the English Premier League football match between Watford and Manchester United at Vicarage Road Stadium in Watford, north of London on November 21, 2015. AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL

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Jose Manuel Jurado remains integral to plans of Quique Sanchez Flores

Quique Sanchez Flores has underlined Jose Manuel Jurado’s value to this Watford side and revealed he took the Spanish playmaker off as a precaution on Saturday.

The summer signing from Spartak Moscow came under some fierce criticism this week for his performance against Manchester United in what was his first start since he smacked a free-kick against the underside of the bar against Crystal Palace. He was taken off at half time and Sanchez Flores conceded afterwards “he wasn’t ready”.

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The head coach clarified those words this morning, stating that Jurado was not ready to play 90 minutes and that he was feeling the effects of a heavy challenge from Morgan Schneiderlin just before half time. Sanchez Flores said this morning to BBC Three Counties radio that he “could have taken 11 players off at half time, including the manager” but opted to just replace Jurado with Nathan Ake.

“Jurado was not playing any worse than any of the other players,” said the head coach when asked by WD Sport. “The situation [of the match and the team] was very bad. I decided 45 minutes after injury was enough [for Jurado].”

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Sanchez Flores has been accused of indulging his fellow Spaniard, who he worked with Atletico Madrid and who he recommended Gino Pozzo signed once he accepted the position of head coach. While other summer signings have had to undergo an integration period of varying lengths, Jurado was parachuted straight into the side against Dundee United, just days after signing from Spartak, and was handed a start against United, instead of being gradually introduced from the bench, without any match practice 

“He has quality,” said Sanchez Flores, “and not just because I know Jurado but because we have statistics [to prove it], to analyse it. He’s an important player when we are playing in the other part of the pitch, on the counterattack. He has good possession, he is connecting well with Abdi, with Capoue, with Deeney and Ighalo. He has a very good relationship [with them] on the pitch. In the transitions, when we defend deep, when we make a high, quick transition, he is one of the best players we have. This is clear in the statistics. The feeling is the same too. It means we can breathe [after defending].”

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Is he best suited to playing out wide, either side of the second striker?

“His position is No 10, at the back of the striker,” Sanchez Flores said. “He played like this against Everton and he is happy playing there, but he can play in other positions: he can play like a winger, like an offensive centre midfielder. The good players can play a lot of positions.”