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‘Ighalo is looking forward to getting back into the starting XI’

Odion Ighalo is ready and hungry to return to the Watford side, according to the head coach.

On Sunday, Ighalo was left out of the starting XI for tactical reasons for the first time in the league since the opening game of last season at Everton. Walter Mazzarri resisted the temptation to bring him on at the Riverside for the tiring Isaac Success and left him on the bench stewing, hoping the move provided him with a much-needed kick up the backside. Mazzarri is a tough cookie but he’s also capable of putting an arm around the shoulder.

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“I tend to speak to the players face to face,” said the head coach. “I did it for the whole week [with Ighalo]. As the great professional he is, he understands very well [why he was left out].”

Opportunity should knock quickly again for Ighalo today as Isaac Success is a major doubt with a hamstring injury.

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“I know he’s looking forward to getting back into the starting XI and [showing] that he belongs to be there,” said the head coach. “He was ready to enter as a sub [at Middlesbrough]. We didn’t need him but he was ready to be play.”

The fact Watford had a striker on the bench who has been the subject of two £30m plus bids this year while Boro brought on Jordan Rhodes, who is yet to score at the Riverside, showed the strength in depth a year two Premier League club can boast. Ighalo is not quite the sharpshooter he was this time last season, however, marking the last 21 Premier League games with just two goals.

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“Ighalo has been struggling now for quite some time,” said Matt Le Tissier on Super Sunday. “The goals have dried up for him. He had a brilliant first half of last season but hasn’t looked the same player since. [His goalscoring form] is not good enough. If you are a centre-forward in the Premier League you can’t be having that strike rate.”