Sean Murray was at Vicarage Road on Monday to watch his Watford teammates and his childhood friend Tom Carroll in action, but it will be more than a fortnight before he is able to lace up his own boots and play competitively.
Murray returned a month early from his loan spell at Wigan Athletic, after failing to make much of an impression under Latics boss Gary Caldwell, and has been training at the UCL training ground in London Colney since. The loan deal, which was for an initial month and then extended to January 16, has not been terminated as Watford did not recall him, therefore Wigan are committed to honouring the deal to pay a percentage of his wages until the middle of next month.
The fact Wigan were happy to let the midfielder return south, knowing they would still be liable for some of his salary for the next month, says a lot about the success of the loan move, orchestrated by former Hornet Matt Jackson who is head of football operations at the DW Stadium and a former advisor to Murray.
Last featuring in a league game at the end of September, Murray was living in a hotel by himself so it was decided, with little prospect of first-team football, it would be best for his personal and professional development if he returned to his parent club.
The 22-year-old was not named in Watford’s 24-man Premier League squad and as Wigan hold his registration, he was unable to play for Harry Kewell’s Under-21 side against Bristol City before Christmas nor is he eligible for the U21 game against Brentford on January 11.
Quique Sanchez Flores has said Murray will go out loan again, with MK Dons being rumoured as a possible destination. Contracted until the summer of 2017, clubs looking to take him on loan may be put off by his wages, which were agreed as part of the five-year contract he signed in August 2012 as one of the brightest young talents in the country. His salary will have been increased following promotion to the Premier League and even a percentage of that maybe beyond the reach of some Championship and League One clubs.