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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.