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Breathless Valon Behrami set to miss rest of Premier League season

Valon Behrami is unlikely to play for Watford again this season due to a rib injury, with Quique Sanchez Flores saying he doesn’t want to risk the midfielder’s participation at Euro 2016 with Switzerland.

The 31-year-old, who has made 22 appearances this season, was a surprise omission from the match-day squad for Saturday’s victory over Aston Villa. However, Sanchez Flores confirmed his absence was down to injury.

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Behrami suffered the injury in training last week and hasn’t been able to work with the squad since. While Sanchez Flores says it is a minor problem, it is one that is set to keep the midfield enforcer out of Watford’s final three Premier League matches.

“Behrami has a rib injury and he isn’t training with us,” he said. “He will probably be out for the rest of the season. He can’t breathe when he is running. So it is important he works in the gym. We have to take care because the European Championships are coming and we don’t want to risk that for him.”

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Behrami’s final appearance this season is likely to be Watford’s defeat at West Ham United. He was on the bench against Crystal Palace for the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley but didn’t get onto the field. Later that evening, he posted a seemingly veiled message of criticism on Twitter aimed at Sanchez Flores.

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We asked the Watford boss what his relationship is like with Behrami, and Jose Holebas, who has also vented on social media this season. “For me it is important to choose the players I feel are completely focused on Watford,” said the head coach. “I am not capricious and I don’t make different decisions every single week. When I feel a player is focused, they have the chance to play. When any player isn’t focused, they have no chance. It is like this.”

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Sanchez Flores’ options in the centre of midfield will be limited at Anfield now Behrami is out along with Etienne Capoue.

“Capoue is finished also,” Sanchez Flores said. “He will not be playing until the end of the season. I hope everyone else is ok. They can’t take a vacation now because we have three games to play.”