The fit-again Sebastian Prödl is ready to push Craig Cathcart for his spot in the Watford team, according to Watford’s head coach.
The Austria international came on against Tottenham Hotspur on Monday for his first appearance in a Watford shirt since the 3-0 home defeat to Arsenal. He played 30 minutes alongside Cathcart against Spurs, as Miguel Britos was withdrawn after an hour in a pre-planned substitution.
Sanchez Flores is known to like the balance Britos’ cultured left foot brings to the defence and the Uruguayan has recovered from the slight injury he picked up against Chelsea and is in the squad tomorrow. That leaves Cathcart, who has made two almost identical mistakes in successive home matches, and Prödl vying for the spot alongside the Uruguayan.
“Prödl is ready to play,” said Sanchez Flores. “We have three good central defenders and the fight for the positions is amazing. It is very good for the team.”
A match against City’s nimble attackers, such as Raheem Sterling, David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero, may come too soon for Prödl but Sanchez Flores is not afraid of making big calls at the heart of the defence, as he demonstrated by bringing Britos in away at Stoke City.
“Prödl is ready is the most important thing,” said the head coach. “He has a collective target with us and an individual target with the European Championships. I will be sensitive with this player.”
Prödl picked up the calf injury that kept him out for more than a month while on international duty, coming off after just three minutes of November’s friendly with Valon Behrami’s Switzerland.
“It’s good to be back,” said Prödl after the 2-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur. “I hope to be back in good shape as soon as possible and be on the pitch when I need to be. Time out with injury is always difficult but the team did sensationally during this time. It’s good for me to come back now without pressure.”
Signed from Werder Bremen in the summer on a free transfer, Prödl admitted he was out longer than was first thought – “we underestimated it a little bit” – but is now itching to reclaim his place.
“Britos and Craig did some very good games in the past but me and Cathcart did, too,” he said. “We have a lot of games coming up in January so it’s a good time to get back.”