Tommie Hoban

Tommie Hoban back as Watford seek to fully integrate defender next season

Tommie Hoban made a return to action this afternoon, featuring for 45 minutes in Watford Under-21s’ 2-0 defeat to Coventry City. The defender hasn’t played a minute of first-team action this season due to injury but remains highly thought of by the club’s hierarchy and is expected to be competing for the left-back berth next term.

Hoban underwent groin surgery in the autumn to correct a problem which had caused pain in his stomach and groin for more than six months. It took the Republic of Ireland Under-21 skipper longer than expected to recover but when he featured twice for Watford’s Under-21s in January, against Reading and Boreham Wood, it seemed as if he was on the mend.

Tommie Hoban
Picture (plus main) by Sean Hinks

However, the issue again flared up and Hoban was forced to spend two months in the gym and with the physios to try and solve an issue that doctors have struggled to get to the bottom of. His appearance today was his first since the Herts Senior Challenge Cup defeat to Boreham Wood at the end of January. He is likely to have been withdrawn at half-time as part of a pre-planned move to ensure he is eased back into action.

Watford hope Hoban, 22, is able to make a full recovery over the coming weeks. The club, we understand, are planning to sign a high quality left-back this summer – Inter Milan’s Davide Santon is the name being mentioned – but want Hoban to provide cover next season, especially with Nathan Ake heading back to Chelsea and Jose Holebas seemingly on his way out.

Picture by Paul Dawson
Picture by Paul Dawson

Joel Ekstrand started alongside Hoban in the heart of Watford’s defence this afternoon but the duo couldn’t stop Harry Kewell’s side suffering a defeat which extends their winless run in the Professional Development League to nine matches.

The Swedish defender has been training with the first team for almost two months following his recovery from a knee ligament injury and led the players out for the warm-up for Watford’s FA Cup quarter final win over Arsenal last month. He is, however, out of contract in the summer and looks likely to leave the club with negotiations deadlocked.

Pic via @watfordfc
Picture via @watfordfc

Ola Adeyemo started his first match this afternoon since he signed on a deal until the summer of 2017 before he was replaced by Jonathan Edwards, the striker who is on trial from Peterborough United where he has played three times. The 19-year-old trained with Kewell’s team around Christmas time and has been on loan at St Albans.

Watford were already behind to a first-half goal from George Thomas by the time Edwards came on and the defeat, the seventh in the last nine, was sealed when Kyle Spence scored for the Sky Blues 12 minutes from time.