Tommie Hoban is very much part of the club’s long-term thinking despite being sent to Blackburn Rovers on a season-long loan.
Walter Mazzarri and his staff are known to have been impressed by the 22-year-old, so much so that Mazzarri preferred him ahead of £5.8m summer buy Christian Kabasele when picking his defensive options for the bench against Chelsea. They were also impressed by the shift he put in against Gillingham on Tuesday night and that fact he was so keen to be ready for this season that he only had a week off in the summer.
However, Mazzarri and the transfer committee took the decision that a season playing in the Championship for Rovers, who need all the defensive help they can get after conceding 11 goals in four games, would be best for his immediate future, particularly with Younes Kaboul, Craig Cathcart, Sebastian Prodl, Miguel Britos and Kabasele ahead of him in the shake-up for the three central defender spots.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s harder than it was [for a young player to get into the Watford first team],” he said in an interview in Tuesday night’s matchday programme. “Four or five years ago the club was renowned for bringing through young players and giving them a chance. I was fortunate to come through that, but when the club steps up and becomes an established Premier League club, naturally it becomes harder. But if you’re good enough, you will find a chance to get in.”
Hoban’s first game for Rovers should be tomorrow against Slavisa Jokanovic’s Fulham. It was under Jokanovic, when Watford played Birmingham at Vicarage Road, that Hoban played his last 90 minutes in the league. He’s since been missing with a troublesome groin and hip problem.
“It was very tough,” he said. “I was coming into it [last season] off the back of a good season and I was hoping to really kick on from there. I never realised I would be out for that long, but injuries happen, so I had to get my head down. It was the same groin injury that kept recurring; I had two operations and lots of injections, but now we’re finally looking ahead.”