Quique Sanchez Flores says he wants to give Steven Berghuis a chance to shine at Watford before the end of the season, which is why he introduced him back into the matchday fold against Arsenal on Saturday.
Yet it appears a token gesture as the Dutchman, who said he was “really unhappy” in a recent interview, will not be tasting any action until the spectre of relegation is removed and the cloud of anxiety is lifted.
“I want to give minutes to Steven but we are not creating the ideal scenario for this player,” the head coach said.. “At this moment we’re a little bit under pressure and people are a little nervous. So that isn’t the right situation. We will wait until it is right for the player.”
The 24-year-old has played just 181 minutes of first-team football this season. He’s featured in five Premier League matches – all as a substitute – and hasn’t played in the top flight since the 3-0 defeat by Arsenal in October. The £4.5m summer signing from AZ Alkmaar has played just once under Sanchez Flores in the past six months – the FA Cup third-round win over Newcastle United in January.
He has turned out twice for the club’s under-21 side since then, at his own request, and appears to be hitting the required standard in training.
“He is improving a lot and technically he is very good player,” Sanchez Flores said. “When a player gets on to the list for the match is because they deserve it.”