Jose Manuel Jurado says he is “completely recovered” from the calf injury that has forced him to miss six of the last seven games at a time when one former Watford midfielder questioned the decision to play him against Stoke City.
Jurado was handed his first start since February 6 against the Potters on Saturday but struggled with the pace of the game, the physicality of the away side and being pitched on the right as a conventional right midfielder required to track back and help out Allan Nyom.
Quique Sanchez Flores admitted he made a mistake in rushing Jurado back from injury against Manchester United in October and withdrew him at half time. Jurado lasted ten more minutes this time before the head coach changed things up.
“The head coach made the decision to play him and it wasn’t a great performance,” said former Watford midfielder Derek Payne when summarising the game for BBC Three Counties Radio. “He wasn’t the only one [who was poor] but I see why [the fans] are singling him out. I was surprised he started as he’s been out for six weeks and we were playing against a strong, physical Stoke side. Jurado likes to play behind the forwards.”
Jurado had his best game in a Watford shirt against Chelsea in February when he was given the license to roam behind Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo. He didn’t get the chance to shine three days later against Tottenham Hotspur as Watford spent 90 minutes on the back foot. That was his last taste of Premier League football until Saturday.
“I feel very good,” Jurado told the club website. “I’m completely recovered, and I’m thinking only about the last part of the season. It was nice to be back on the pitch, of course I still have to get up to 100 per cent to be fully fit but I felt good.”
Jurado watched the memorable FA Cup win over Arsenal from the bench and hopes to get the chance to play there this time, a week from today. He last played at the Emirates in the 2009 Emirates Cup for Atletico Madrid.
“We have to prepare well over the next week and a half so we are completely focused on Arsenal,” he said. “We go there hoping we can win, it’s not impossible, as we’ve shown we can do that already.”
They’ve also shown they can beat Crystal Palace in London. They will need to do it again, on Sunday April 24, if they are to reach the FA Cup final for the second time.
“Reaching the final would be fantastic,” said Jurado. “We are only one step up away from that. I’ve never played there [Wembley] before. Every footballer dreams and wants to play in those kinds of stadiums. We will give everything we can in that game against Crystal Palace to ensure we return for the final.”