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Watford wield the axe in the medical department

Watford’s players will return to training today to the shock news that head of medical Richard Collinge has been relieved of his duties.

Collinge was told yesterday by chief executive Scott Duxbury and sporting director Luke Dowling that his services are no longer required. The decision is not only shrouded in mystery but also comes at a strange time. The obvious time to make a change in the medical department was in the summer when Walter Mazzarri was allowed to bring in nine Italian members of staff. Another has joined since, we understand.

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The club had another opportunity to act during the two-week international break but, instead, they pulled the trigger six days before a home game with Manchester United. The timing is also lousy from Collinge’s point of view, leaving him, like Nigel Gibbs under Aidy Boothroyd, with his work cut out to find a new role with positions at most clubs locked down.

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Collinge returned to the club in February last year to replace Marco Cesarini as head of medical. He is a hugely popular and respected figure at the facility at the UCL training ground in London Colney, and oversaw the significant upgrade in the club’s medical facilities, including the installation of an on-site cryotherapy chamber and an anti-gravity treadmill. At one stage last season, Watford had the best bill of health in the Premier League, having the fewest number of training days missed through injury in the top flight. By the end, only Southampton and champions Leicester had fewer players missing through injury for 14 days or more.

Watford have shown they are ruthless when it comes to the position of the head coach but they have tended to opt for continuity when it comes to their backroom staff. But they bucked that trend in the summer when Dean Austin was let go as Mazzarri opted for an exclusively Italian coaching staff.