Watford believe they have finally got to the bottom of the problem afflicting key defender Craig Cathcart.
Cathcart has been struggling since missing the Arsenal game with a groin problem. He soldiered on against West Ham United and Manchester United but was forced off at half-time against Burnley. He has since missed the games against Bournemouth and Middlesbrough – and is out of the trip to Swansea City tomorrow.
Cathcart even made a whistle-stop visit to Italy a fortnight ago to visit a specialist at Udinese but the problem persisted. The diagnosis breakthrough occurred on Wednesday when Cathcart visited a London surgeon who confirmed he had a minor hernia.
The defender will now undergo the knife on Monday to repair the hernia and the club believe he could be back in a fortnight, ruling him out of the games against Hull City and Liverpool. The subsequent international break should give him added recovery time and put him back into contention to face Leicester City at Vicarage Road. Cathcart was a near ever present last season, playing 51 times for club and country.
Injuries to centre-halves has meant Walter Mazzarri has fielded five different back-three combinations and only had the luxury of naming the same back three in successive matches just once. Providing Miguel Britos shrugs off the problem that saw him limp off against Middlesbrough, the head coach is likely to field Younes Kaboul, Sebastian Prodl and Britos as his back three at the Liberty Stadium.