Walter Mazzarri played his cards very close to his chest this afternoon when discussing the fitness of his squad but did reveal that Isaac Success will have to be content again with a place on the Watford bench.
Success missed six games and seven weeks of action with a combination of a dead leg and a hamstring injury and, given this is his second injury of the season, has very much been eased back into action and wrapped in cotton wool. He has made the squad for the last two games but stayed unused on the bench despite Watford being behind at West Brom and home and hosed against Everton at 3-1 up.
“He’s recovered now,” said Mazzarri. “He’s available 100 per cent for the team but he has got around 20-3o mins in his legs. He won’t start because then we have to make one change already. If he plays, he comes on from the bench.”
The make up of the XI will depend on how, and if, the likes of Younes Kaboul and Valon Behrami come through training tomorrow.
“Kaboul has been training with the team,” said Mazzarri, who had hoped the big defender would be available against Everton. “We need to verify his condition and see how many minutes are in his legs. Behrami didn’t train yesterday. He’s still recovering. He was very tired after the game. We will evaluate if he is able to start or come on from the bench.”
Quique Sanchez Flores played without a striker at Manchester City last time, asking Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney to flank a packed midfield. Deeney even ended up at right-back at one stage. Mazzarri has not taken a backward step this season and you won’t find him parking the bus at the Etihad stadium. He watched City’s game against Leicester and you suspect he knows what he wants to do. He’s just waiting to see who he has available first.
“After such an intense game, as it was against Everton, where the team has spent a lot physically and mentally, it’s still very early to decide on the formation,” he said. “I still need tomorrow. I need to understand the condition of the players who have played the game. We usually check on them the day before the game. Some of the players trained individually, some trained with the team. We will see tomorrow or even the day of the game.”
Craig Cathcart returned to training this week but he’s being pencilled in to return against Crystal Palace or Tottenham.