Barring any unforeseen injuries, the Watford team virtually picks itself this evening.
Odion Ighalo will replace Obbi Oulare at the apex of the attack, Etienne Capoue will be restored at the expense of Adlene Guedioura and Almen Abdi can expect to play on the right-hand side of the midfield instead of Steven Berghuis. Quique Sanchez Flores may opt to give Jose Holebas increased protection, as he did in the second half on Saturday, by deploying Ikechi Anya in front of him but that would mean dropping Jose Manuel Jurado and we know the head coach is loathe to do that. So, that just leaves the centre-half positions to debate.
Miguel Britos has established himself as the No.1 centre-half. If he is fit, then the Uruguayan starts any Premier League match. Who partners him is the one selection issue facing Sanchez Flores.
Sebastian Prödl enhanced his claims for a recall to the Premier League starting XI with a no-nonsense and assured display against Newcastle United on Saturday. He has not started a league game since the 3-0 loss at home to Arsenal, losing his place to Britos at Stoke City and then struggling to win it back due to a calf injury.
The Austrian has gone from partnering Cathcart for the first nine league games to now jostling with the Northern Irishman for the one spot alongside Britos.
“We have three players who are competing and challenging,” said Sanchez Flores. “We also have [Joel] Ekstrand and [Tommie] Hoban coming back. It is amazing a team like Watford have five very good central defenders.”
Cathcart was faultless until the start of the festive period fixtures. He made identical mistakes against Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, the latter one costing a goal, got caught out for Chelsea’s equaliser and will be disappointed at how Sergio Aguero found too much space and leapt high above him to power in City’s equaliser.
“He’s always ready,” said Sanchez Flores. “The focus and concentration for Cathcart is very high but sometimes of course the players can make mistakes. This is part of football. We need to accept these but we also need to correct.”