Jose Holebas will assume the position on Saturday he usually adopted under Quique Sanchez Flores – sitting in the stands – as he is suspended for the visit of the Premier League champions.
The now former Greece international has picked up five yellow cards (four in the first six games and the final one against Liverpool) and is automatically suspended for one game. His absence creates a dilemma for Walter Mazzarri as there is no obvious replacement for Holebas on the left side of the team. We take a look at the contenders to fill the key spot against Leicester City.
The Moroccan will tell you his best position is left-wing, which enables him to cut in onto his favourite right-foot. Holebas’ role, however, is slightly more withdrawn than a classic winger and Amrabat would therefore be tackling with his wrong foot in defensive situations, which is not ideal, especially as he’s been found wanting defensively on the other side already. Mazzarri could still decide to play Janmaat on right side and Amrabat on the other but Amrabat has been such a hit bombing up and down the right that it would seem to be a case of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.
Who? Yes, you remember, the guy on loan from Chelsea who we saw for 15 sprightly minutes against Burnley but who we have not caught a glimpse of since. His wand of a left foot lends itself perfectly to the role and we understand he is fit again following a knee problem, but a game against Leicester, and all their quick-silver attackers, is not the time to be making your first start since April. He is even more gung-ho than Holebas and it’s tough to see Mazzarri making such a bold attacking selection after the team were whacked for six last time out. It’s time to batten down the hatches. Plus, the word from the training ground is that his attitude isn’t the greatest and that he’s not endeared himself to the head coach.
A bit of a wild card but bear with us. Sanchez Flores viewed Britos as a left-back option and playing him in the No 3 role would certainly give the team balance. It would also necessitate a return to a back four as you can’t see the Uruguayan bombing up and down the flank as a wing-back. However, Watford are short of fit centre-halves – Christian Kabasele has joined Sebastian Prodl and Craig Cathcart on the sidelines – and it’s hard to see Mazzarri pairing Younes Kaboul and Adrian Mariappa together so Britos can play left-back. It would have been a more viable option had Watford had another centre-half fit.
The Colombian was very much a Mazzarri signing and the smart money would be on him starting against the Foxes. He’s been Mazzarri’s odd-job man, filling in at right-back, right-wing back and even in midfield against Manchester United. He played in both wing-back roles for Napoli under Mazzarri so he knows the role well. The only question mark is his fitness levels. He was blowing after an hour against Swansea at the Liberty Stadium on his last start.