rsz_4717975

Maligned Jurado “feeling better” after getting nod ahead of Abdi

Jose Manuel Jurado only started today because Almen Abdi missed training yesterday and the Spaniard went some way to winning over his critics.

Nobody polarises opinion in yellow right now more than the summer signing from Spartak Moscow and there was incredulity when he was named in the starting XI to face Norwich City ahead of Abdi and Adlène Guedioura.

Capture27

Guedioura was still suffering from a kick he picked up at Aston Villa last week so Sanchez Flores replaced Abdi with Ikechi Anya, and Juan Carlos Paredes with Jurado.

“Jurado is playing because he played very well in the first quarter of the league,” said Sanchez Flores who suggested the names of fellow Spaniards Jurado and Joaquin to Gino Pozzo when he joined in the summer. He wanted both but only got the former as the latter joined Real Betis. “Jurado is recuperating [after two months out], Abdi didn’t train with us yesterday so if some player isn’t 100 per cent then they can’t play. But we are now in a position where we have cover.”

4718081

Jurado lasted 32 minutes longer than he did in the previous home game with Arsenal when he was replaced at the break. He did not light up Vicarage Road on a blowy afternoon and was frustratingly inconsistent but this was his best performance in a while.

Capture13

He started nervously, as if fearful of making a mistake in front of the expectant home fans, but his confidence grew along with his influence on the match. He had a reasonable claim for a penalty when he was blocked off and was inventive around the edge of the box. One searching pass to Odion Ighalo was his stand-out moment but he will be disappointed with how carelessly he gave away possession on several occasions near the halfway line.

Capture11

Sanchez Flores has five players vying for the two positions either side of Deeney.

“We have Anya, Abdi, Jurado, Paredes and Guedioura who is coming after playing 15/20 minutes against Aston Villa so he can play more in the future,” said the head coach. “So it is important that we have cover in several areas.”

Jurado provided cover on the bench last weekend at Villa Park, watching for 90 minutes as an unused sub as Watford recorded a 3-2 win. He was pleased to be back in the fold today and, judging by this tweet, is still feeling his way back after a hamstring and knee injuries, as well as adjusting to life in the Premier League.

 Capture

Also grateful for the goodwill of the fans was Nathan Ake who, amazingly, suffered no ill-effects from a heavy fall.

Capture3

“He is fine,” said Sanchez Flores. “He’s young and strong and we are very happy with the performance of Nathan Ake. He is a very good man and a really good player, so we are happy with Ake.”

Not in the squad today were Steven Berghuis and Victor Ibarbo who were both named in the 18 last weekend as the head coach was keen to play with width and have as many wingers at his disposal as possible. They did not make the cut today but the out of favour Jose Holebas did, mainly to provide left-back cover if anything happened to Miguel Britos or Craig Cathcart and Nathan Ake was moved inside.

“We use the one week between games to analyse the progress of the players and if they deserve to get onto the list,” said Sanchez Flores. “The players outside of the list are training very hard but we don’t have space for every player. We would like to have the possibility like the World Cup to put 22 players on the bench. Sometimes they don’t deserve to be off the list.”