Watford will wait until tomorrow before deciding if Heurelho Gomes has recovered sufficiently from the blow to the head he received last weekend to be able to keep goal against Norwich City on Saturday.
Gomes was given the all-clear by a neurologist following a precautionary scan at a Birmingham hospital after being carried off on a stretcher at Villa Park in the 67th minute. He travelled back to Hertfordshire with the team that night but Quique Sanchez Flores said the Brazilian goalkeeper has not returned to full training this week. There is concern over the impact of the collision with Craig Cathcart on his neck. Either that or the head coach was trying to create a seed of doubt in the minds of the Norwich analysts.
“We have to wait until the last moment,” said Sanchez Flores. “At the moment he is recuperating. He is better. We have to wait until the last moment. He wants to play and come back as quick as possible [but] we need to wait for the opinion of the medical staff. We prefer to wait until tomorrow for that decision.”
The absence of Gomes would mean a first Premier League start for Giedrius Arlauskis and a place on the bench for Nathan Gartside, the teenage goalkeeper.
“I don’t think about Gomes not playing,” said Sanchez Flores. “He is one of the leaders, a very good player with high personality. The presence of Gomes in the match is important.”
Sebastian Prödl is set to return to training today or tomorrow, after a calf injury, but he will not be in contention for Saturday. Valon Behrami is also still out with a knee problem. The Switzerland international has not started a game since the 1-0 home win over Swansea.
“Behrami is completely important for us,” said the head coach. “He is one of the main players for us during the season. He has a lot of experience, he was playing very well and he is an important character. But after he was sent off against Swansea, he has not had a good feeling with the injuries. We are waiting for him and sometimes we put him on the bench when he is not 100 per cent. My work is now to talk with him and be supportive and I hope he is coming to us as quick as possible.”
The head coach reported Joel Ekstrand is “very close” to making his comeback, after reporting no ill-effects from his return to full training, while Tommie Hoban was out on the grass at UCL in London Colney yesterday, training separately from the group as he steps up his return from surgery to solve a groin and hip problem.
Adlene Guedioura, meanwhile, needed treatment early in the week after sustaining a kick at Villa Park but he should be fit and is pushing for his first start since re-signing from Crystal Palace.