George Byers

Watford U21s shake hands on draw with Millwall after hectic week

Harry Kewell claims his phone has been ringing off the hook this week as managers called to check the availability of his under-21 players who stopped the rot against Millwall this afternoon.

The deadline for emergency loan signings in England was yesterday and Kewell told us this afternoon that managers, of National League and Football League clubs, called to enquire about signing his players on short-term loans.

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“Yeah we’ve had a few offers for the players and I had a lot of managers ringing me up to find out about the boys, but I think the boys love working with me so much that they don’t want to go,” Kewell said this afternoon. “It’s a tough job when we lose players but it’s a great job and it shows character. You’ve got to be thinking a lot and you’ve got to be able to deal with other players. Then you have a core of four or five players that will always play so you’ve got to work around them too. It is a difficult job but I love it.”

Alex Jakubiak, Sean Murray and George Byers are likely to have been the main players clubs were looking to take until the end of the season. Byers almost joined Rapid Bucharest last month, Charlton’s chief scout is a big fan of Jakubiak while MK Dons were thought to be monitoring Murray who was also the subject of an enquiry from a League One club.

They all started this afternoon’s Professional Development League match at the Lions’ Bromley training ground. Watford didn’t manage to secure their first league win since December but they did end a run of four straight defeats.

Sean Murray
Picture by Sean Hinks

Murray and Alfie Young both squandered half chances early on before an impressive piece of last-ditch defending from the Millwall captain Chris Parr prevented trialist Ola Adeyemo from giving Watford the lead from close range. In the second period, Parr came to Millwall’s rescue to deny Adeyemo again and within minutes, Sandford was forced to produce similar heroics to thwart Ashley Charles from long range.

Watford were camped in the home side’s penalty area in the final minutes and would have claimed all three points had Sanford not pulled off two fingertip saves to deny Jorell Johnson.

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“I am frustrated because we tried to play the game the right way, each team and each manager have a different way of playing,” Kewell said. “I’d like to bring in the way I play and that’s with thinking footballers and there’s parts of the game where we don’t think. We threw the kitchen sink at them and we did create chances but it doesn’t matter because everyone walks away and says it was 0-0 and not a Watford win because we always leave the door open for the opponent to maybe get that goal.

“I’m taking positive from all of our performances and even though the results matter to me it’s all about player development. We get judged on if we can push any players into first team so these boys can play but they need to realise and or maybe something needs to go their way to get that confidence in the final third. You don’t want to be known as a great team for three quarters of the pitch, you want to be known as a great team.”

Millwall: Sandford, Brown, O’Donnell, Fitzgerald, Parr, Bray, Mulrooney-Skinner, Donovan, Njdoli, White, Eze. Substitutes: McNamara, Barton, Leighton, Ebuzoeme.

Watford: Simpson, Lewis, Martin (Hall h-t), Stuart, Johnson, Young, Murray, Byers, Jakubiak, Adeyemo (Charles 55), Mensah. Substitutes: Eleftheriou, Thomas, Ovenden.