Jose Manuel Jurado is almost certain to make a timely return to the Watford squad for the visit of Manchester United on Saturday while Jose Holebas and Nathan Ake are being considered as central defensive cover following the injury to Sebastian Prödl.
Jurado has been missing since the home defeat to Crystal Palace with a combination of hamstring and calf problems but, according to Quique Sanchez Flores, the Spanish playmaker has trained with the squad for the past ten days. A place on the bench, increasing the head coach’s limited attacking options, is probably the best he can hope for. Inclusion in the squad will see Jurado reunited with Manchester United’s David De Gea, Atletico Madrid’s goalkeeper when Sanchez Flores led them to Europa League glory in 2010.
Sanchez Flores will have a clearer idea tomorrow of the extent of the injury Prödl picked up on international duty but early signs are that he could be out for up to three weeks. With Tommie Hoban two weeks away from completing his rehabilitation from surgery to solve a groin / hip problem and Joel Ekstrand nowhere near being in contention, let alone being registered with the Premier League, Essaid Belkalem is left as the only senior centre-half to provide backup to Craig Cathcart and Miguel Britos.
However, Sanchez Flores admitted he would consider deploying one of his left-backs as an emergency centre-half should anything happen to Cathcart or Britos.
“Ake and maybe Holebas,” said Sanchez Flores when asked about his central defensive cover. “I think both have the conditions to play in this position.”
Could Belkalem come into contention and, potentially, make his first appearance since a 3-1 defeat away at Charlton?
“Belkalem has always been in my thinking in the past three months,” said Sanchez Flores. “His attitude is always positive and he is training very well.”
Watford remain confident Cameroon will not ask Fifa to prevent Allan Nyom from playing for Watford this weekend, despite him leaving the national team squad for no apparent reason. Nyom is understood to have written to the Cameroon FA to explain his withdrawal. Odion Ighalo, meanwhile, is set to report back to London Colney after his international games with Nigeria. He is expected back tomorrow and, as long as he is fit, he is a certain starter.
Click HERE to read a detailed explanation of the situation regarding Nyom.