Three of Watford’s attacking summer signings still seem someway off playing prominent roles in this fascinating Premier League campaign, judging by the comments of the head coach this afternoon.
Quique Sanchez Flores sounded no nearer naming Obbi Oulare on the bench for the first time since he joined from Club Brugge or restoring Steven Berghuis to the squad for the first time since the Arsenal game. With two goals for the Under-21s on Monday afternoon to his name, Victor Ibarbo stands the best chance of making the 18 for the lunchtime kickoff with Manchester United but even that isn’t guaranteed.
“Ibarbo has trained really, really well this week,” Sanchez Flores said. “I think he has understood that he needed to change something to convince me. He is training in a different way. I don’t know exactly what changed but his intensity in training is different.”
Sanchez Flores decided against allowing Harry Kewell to field Oulare against Colchester on Monday, as he played three quarters of the friendly against Fulham last Friday, but that may change with Alex Jakubiak suspended for two games after the one against Cardiff City on Monday.
“He played against Fulham last week and that was enough,” said Sanchez Flores. “I prefer he trained with us because he needs to learn about the system. I was pleased with all the players against Fulham. It isn’t easy to play when you are almost on holiday. We kept the values of the league. There weren’t too many but sometimes that happens. During the week I make evaluations of the players and then I make my decision.”
Watford looked desperately short of attacking options when you looked at the bench after Jamie Vardy had scored Leicester’s second nearly a fortnight ago. Is Sanchez Flores not tempted to unleash the hulking 19-year-old from the bench if Watford are behind late on?
“It is possible,” he said. “A couple of times he has been really close [to being named in the squad]. “Sometimes we’ve had to talk with some players because when they are out of the list it is for a reason. Other times it is simply because of numbers. He [Oulare] is out of the list but he is only 19. Sometimes he stays at home and if he doesn’t travel then the next time he’ll be with us.”
Berghuis played the full 90 minutes against Fulham and caught the eye of those allowed to watch the friendly at Fulham’s training ground. He’s been taken out of the firing line since appearing out of his depth against the Gunners.
“He knows the things he has to improve,” said Sanchez Flores on the summer signing from AZ Alkmaar. “Now he is working hard in the training, working hard in the gym. Yes, he’s improving.”