Valon Behrami’s wait for his first Watford start since the beginning of September looks set to continue after we were told he is not in the 19-man squad to face Newcastle United in the FA Cup third-round tie.
The Switzerland international had been expected to be one of several peripheral squad members given a start against the Magpies this afternoon. However, Behrami, we understand, is not in the 19-man squad who will run out for the warmup before the game. The third-choice goalkeeper, which has been Nathan Gartside, will be the one who does not make the final squad of 18.
It is unclear if Behrami is injured but Quique Sanchez Flores reported on Thursday that everyone, with the exception of Tommie Hoban and Joel Ekstrand, was fit and available for selection.
Behrami’s injury record, since returning from a three-game suspension for the red card against Swansea City, has been chequered to say the least. He picked up a calf injury while training with the national team at the start of October and a combination of that, plus a knee problem, limited him to just under half-an-hour of the eight games following the completion of his ban. The form of Ben Watson then restricted him to just 76 minutes over the festive period. The injury record of a player who turns 31 in April may be one of the reasons why Watford are pursuing a deal for Mario Suarez, the 27-year-old Fiorentina midfielder.
With Victor Ibarbo completely out of favour, Behrami’s place in today’s squad is likely to go to Alessandro Diamanti while his absence should, you would expect, bring a first start for Adlène Guedioura since the Championship win over Brighton & Hove Albion. Sanchez Flores said on Thursday he plans to make “four or five” changes to the team who lost, agonisingly, to Manchester City.