Manuel Almunia and Almen Abdi are both set to return for Watford's match against Middlesbrough

Picture: Simon Jacobs

Picture: Simon Jacobs

First published in Sport by

Manuel Almunia and Almen Abdi are both fit for Watford’s match at Middlesbrough but three first team regulars are likely to miss the trip to the North East.

After their FA Cup tie against Manchester City, the Hornets return to Championship action and face one of their promotion rivals at the Riverside Stadium.

Gianfranco Zola confirmed Almunia and Abdi are available for selection but the Watford head coach believes Fitz Hall and Jonathan Hogg will be out until next week. Tommie Hoban is also struggling with an Achilles tendon injury.

Neuton may also miss the trip with Zola stating the defender would be assessed today (Friday).

Watford go into the clash seven points behind fourth-place Middlesbrough, with a game in hand, and Zola admits it’s imperative his side take points from the teams also pushing for promotion.

Zola said: "It's very important for many reasons. First of all, you want to beat the teams that are competing with you for a play-off position.

"Games, like the one on Saturday, will be massive for us to win. Also in terms of confidence, if you win, it's another big boost."

The Hornets boss added: "It's certainly going to be a tough game for us but we are confident and we have good form away from home. So we think we can do well there."

Middlesbrough have the second best home record in the Championship with ten victories from their 13 matches at the Riverside this season and have been beaten just twice at the Riverside.

Tony Mowbray could have Seb Hines, Emmanuel Ledesma, Andre Bikey and Geroge Friend available after injury but Chelsea loanee Josh McEachran may miss due to ankle knock.

Middlesbrough claimed a 2-1 victory at Vicarage Road earlier in the campaign but Mowbray believes the Hornets will be a "threat" in the promotion race.

He said: "I think at that time Watford were still finding out what they had. They'd signed a lot of players and were finding out the best way of playing that group. Now they seem to have solved most of those issues and are on a good run.

"They are in the top six and going to be a very definite threat. They score goals, are dangerous on the counter-attack and are very hard to breakdown when they get in front.

"They’ve won six games away from home; they’ve won at Brighton and put six past Leeds so this is a big, big test for us."

Comments (22)

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5:21pm Thu 10 Jan 13

exeterhornet says...

Good team news. Pity no sign of Fitz. We owe them one and I hope we turn it on up front and keep things steady at the back. Am flying up from Exeter to Newcastle tomorrow with the Mrs and getting the train down on Saturday for the game. Anybody else staying in Newcastle or any geordie horns fancy meeting up for a pint pre/post match, let me know on here how to get in touch.
Good team news. Pity no sign of Fitz. We owe them one and I hope we turn it on up front and keep things steady at the back. Am flying up from Exeter to Newcastle tomorrow with the Mrs and getting the train down on Saturday for the game. Anybody else staying in Newcastle or any geordie horns fancy meeting up for a pint pre/post match, let me know on here how to get in touch. exeterhornet
  • Score: 0

5:27pm Thu 10 Jan 13

KeithMercer says...

Fancy us to get something here and pleased to see these two are back. Nothing against Bond as I believe he has the potential but obviously Almunia gives us some much needed experience.I see goals for Vydra and 3 points to stick in the boot of the coach for the long trip home!!
Yellow Armani
Fancy us to get something here and pleased to see these two are back. Nothing against Bond as I believe he has the potential but obviously Almunia gives us some much needed experience.I see goals for Vydra and 3 points to stick in the boot of the coach for the long trip home!! Yellow Armani KeithMercer
  • Score: 0

5:35pm Thu 10 Jan 13

Mickey Quinn, not so thin says...

Will be interesting to see what team GZ puts out and whether JE & FF keep their places. Had hoped JH & FH would have made it back for this one. Will be very tough and the defence will have their work cut out.
Will be interesting to see what team GZ puts out and whether JE & FF keep their places. Had hoped JH & FH would have made it back for this one. Will be very tough and the defence will have their work cut out. Mickey Quinn, not so thin
  • Score: 0

5:40pm Thu 10 Jan 13

SAHornet says...

Wasn't expecting our players to be so seemingly fragile (with the exception of Hall who we were widely warned about). Wonder if it's all down to player fragility, cautious med-team or a combination of both. What do you guys think and anyone else worried by this turn of events?
Wasn't expecting our players to be so seemingly fragile (with the exception of Hall who we were widely warned about). Wonder if it's all down to player fragility, cautious med-team or a combination of both. What do you guys think and anyone else worried by this turn of events? SAHornet
  • Score: 0

5:51pm Thu 10 Jan 13

not a regular says...

He said: "I think at that time Watford were still finding out what they had. They'd signed a lot of players and were finding out the best way of playing that group."

Erm, no Tony, we were still finding out that this country is littered with terrible referees that don't get enough of the spotlight in their day jobs. That's why your team scored more goals than us (I don't want to say beat).
He said: "I think at that time Watford were still finding out what they had. They'd signed a lot of players and were finding out the best way of playing that group." Erm, no Tony, we were still finding out that this country is littered with terrible referees that don't get enough of the spotlight in their day jobs. That's why your team scored more goals than us (I don't want to say beat). not a regular
  • Score: 0

6:38pm Thu 10 Jan 13

gloryhornet4 says...

exeterhornet wrote:
Good team news. Pity no sign of Fitz. We owe them one and I hope we turn it on up front and keep things steady at the back. Am flying up from Exeter to Newcastle tomorrow with the Mrs and getting the train down on Saturday for the game. Anybody else staying in Newcastle or any geordie horns fancy meeting up for a pint pre/post match, let me know on here how to get in touch.
They may be 'orns in Geordieland but for anyone to understand what they are saying is a challenge.

bounty = bouneee

maltesers = maleezus

wages = pee

VAT receipt = wozatorkinaboot

goal = gool

roll = booon

your round = cannebeewejustgotere
[quote][p][bold]exeterhornet[/bold] wrote: Good team news. Pity no sign of Fitz. We owe them one and I hope we turn it on up front and keep things steady at the back. Am flying up from Exeter to Newcastle tomorrow with the Mrs and getting the train down on Saturday for the game. Anybody else staying in Newcastle or any geordie horns fancy meeting up for a pint pre/post match, let me know on here how to get in touch.[/p][/quote]They may be 'orns in Geordieland but for anyone to understand what they are saying is a challenge. bounty = bouneee maltesers = maleezus wages = pee VAT receipt = wozatorkinaboot goal = gool roll = booon your round = cannebeewejustgotere gloryhornet4
  • Score: 0

7:00pm Thu 10 Jan 13

northofwatfordpete says...

My Boro mates are not at all confident about Saturday. Emnes seems to have thrown the towel in and Scott McDonald is out of favour - hope so as he always seems to score against us.
My Boro mates are not at all confident about Saturday. Emnes seems to have thrown the towel in and Scott McDonald is out of favour - hope so as he always seems to score against us. northofwatfordpete
  • Score: 0

7:02pm Thu 10 Jan 13

YoKsHiRe.....HoRn!!!!!!! says...

Thank god!
Thank god! YoKsHiRe.....HoRn!!!!!!!
  • Score: 0

7:02pm Thu 10 Jan 13

YoKsHiRe.....HoRn!!!!!!! says...

Thank god!
Thank god! YoKsHiRe.....HoRn!!!!!!!
  • Score: 0

7:53pm Thu 10 Jan 13

ORBY says...

I remember going up to Mid'boro in the early 90s when Jason Solomom scored a cracker from outside the box to give us a 1-0 win. Went into a pub and the barman asked us what we were doing there and we told him we were up for the weekend "Why would you come to Middlesborough for a weekend" He asked! It's a funny old game!
I remember going up to Mid'boro in the early 90s when Jason Solomom scored a cracker from outside the box to give us a 1-0 win. Went into a pub and the barman asked us what we were doing there and we told him we were up for the weekend "Why would you come to Middlesborough for a weekend" He asked! It's a funny old game! ORBY
  • Score: 0

7:53pm Thu 10 Jan 13

craig239 says...

Nothing to do with article but just wanted to say " I love watford football Club"
Nothing to do with article but just wanted to say " I love watford football Club" craig239
  • Score: 0

7:54pm Thu 10 Jan 13

ORBY says...

I remember going up to Mid'boro in the early 90s when Jason Solomom scored a cracker from outside the box to give us a 1-0 win. Went into a pub and the barman asked us what we were doing there and we told him we were up for the weekend "Why would you come to Middlesborough for a weekend" He asked! It's a funny old game!
I remember going up to Mid'boro in the early 90s when Jason Solomom scored a cracker from outside the box to give us a 1-0 win. Went into a pub and the barman asked us what we were doing there and we told him we were up for the weekend "Why would you come to Middlesborough for a weekend" He asked! It's a funny old game! ORBY
  • Score: 0

8:54pm Thu 10 Jan 13

AngelHornet says...

Almunia for Bond,Eustace to keep his place and Abdi back in...perhaps for Forestieri.
Almunia for Bond,Eustace to keep his place and Abdi back in...perhaps for Forestieri. AngelHornet
  • Score: 0

9:09pm Thu 10 Jan 13

smarkymark says...

Of course Eustace will play if Hogg is still injured!!!
Of course Eustace will play if Hogg is still injured!!! smarkymark
  • Score: 0

11:30pm Thu 10 Jan 13

AngelHornet says...

smarkymark wrote:
Of course Eustace will play if Hogg is still injured!!!
There's no guarantee. There's always Yeates!!!
[quote][p][bold]smarkymark[/bold] wrote: Of course Eustace will play if Hogg is still injured!!![/p][/quote]There's no guarantee. There's always Yeates!!! AngelHornet
  • Score: 0

11:44pm Thu 10 Jan 13

Bush Hornet says...

not a regular wrote:
He said: "I think at that time Watford were still finding out what they had. They'd signed a lot of players and were finding out the best way of playing that group."

Erm, no Tony, we were still finding out that this country is littered with terrible referees that don't get enough of the spotlight in their day jobs. That's why your team scored more goals than us (I don't want to say beat).
Yeah Mowbray got lucky that day. He's no fool though. He knows what we're about. Come on you Golden Boys. Narrow win is fine
[quote][p][bold]not a regular[/bold] wrote: He said: "I think at that time Watford were still finding out what they had. They'd signed a lot of players and were finding out the best way of playing that group." Erm, no Tony, we were still finding out that this country is littered with terrible referees that don't get enough of the spotlight in their day jobs. That's why your team scored more goals than us (I don't want to say beat).[/p][/quote]Yeah Mowbray got lucky that day. He's no fool though. He knows what we're about. Come on you Golden Boys. Narrow win is fine Bush Hornet
  • Score: 0

8:39am Fri 11 Jan 13

bigthunder says...

Yes fair to say we owe them one after the loss at home due to sending off that never was and was quickly overturned !

clean sheet tomorrow ??

on another subject i know still early ish in the window but surprised not to see any confirmation of loan players earmarked for signing on full time being announced yet , it is not as if they have only just joined, they have been here all season so plenty of time to have got the details sorted ready for signing on 1st jan ?
Yes fair to say we owe them one after the loss at home due to sending off that never was and was quickly overturned ! clean sheet tomorrow ?? on another subject i know still early ish in the window but surprised not to see any confirmation of loan players earmarked for signing on full time being announced yet , it is not as if they have only just joined, they have been here all season so plenty of time to have got the details sorted ready for signing on 1st jan ? bigthunder
  • Score: 0

9:59am Fri 11 Jan 13

Bush Hornet says...

bigthunder wrote:
Yes fair to say we owe them one after the loss at home due to sending off that never was and was quickly overturned !

clean sheet tomorrow ??

on another subject i know still early ish in the window but surprised not to see any confirmation of loan players earmarked for signing on full time being announced yet , it is not as if they have only just joined, they have been here all season so plenty of time to have got the details sorted ready for signing on 1st jan ?
Maybe the management want to keep the players on their toes and make them play for their contracts during Jan. It's a critical time so any extra bit of motivation welcome
[quote][p][bold]bigthunder[/bold] wrote: Yes fair to say we owe them one after the loss at home due to sending off that never was and was quickly overturned ! clean sheet tomorrow ?? on another subject i know still early ish in the window but surprised not to see any confirmation of loan players earmarked for signing on full time being announced yet , it is not as if they have only just joined, they have been here all season so plenty of time to have got the details sorted ready for signing on 1st jan ?[/p][/quote]Maybe the management want to keep the players on their toes and make them play for their contracts during Jan. It's a critical time so any extra bit of motivation welcome Bush Hornet
  • Score: 0

11:45am Fri 11 Jan 13

jasonwatford says...

Why would anyone want eustace to play after that shower he showed at man city ??? Too slow and Battoccio and even yeats should be ahead of him. Some people just cant let go can they.
Why would anyone want eustace to play after that shower he showed at man city ??? Too slow and Battoccio and even yeats should be ahead of him. Some people just cant let go can they. jasonwatford
  • Score: 0

12:07pm Fri 11 Jan 13

chrisptrifle says...

jasonwatford wrote:
Why would anyone want eustace to play after that shower he showed at man city ??? Too slow and Battoccio and even yeats should be ahead of him. Some people just cant let go can they.
Well, to be fair it might be worth judging him against more relative opponents and once he has got used to match day pace ;)
[quote][p][bold]jasonwatford[/bold] wrote: Why would anyone want eustace to play after that shower he showed at man city ??? Too slow and Battoccio and even yeats should be ahead of him. Some people just cant let go can they.[/p][/quote]Well, to be fair it might be worth judging him against more relative opponents and once he has got used to match day pace ;) chrisptrifle
  • Score: 0

1:00pm Fri 11 Jan 13

abbotshornet says...

JE for Hogg makes sense as we will need a ball winner, Yates is better going forward if required at all.
We definately owe them one after the home result, and up until recently we have done quite well up there.
Bit early to call it a 6 pointer however with a win in our game in hand a win would tomorrow would be great for our promotion prospects.
I hope the team/manager has learned from the diversion in Manchester and we can concentrate the league now. COYH
JE for Hogg makes sense as we will need a ball winner, Yates is better going forward if required at all. We definately owe them one after the home result, and up until recently we have done quite well up there. Bit early to call it a 6 pointer however with a win in our game in hand a win would tomorrow would be great for our promotion prospects. I hope the team/manager has learned from the diversion in Manchester and we can concentrate the league now. COYH abbotshornet
  • Score: 0

8:19pm Fri 11 Jan 13

northofwatfordpete says...

JE should not be relied upon for 90 mins - I would rather he came on or off at half time. We have a squad of close to 40 and JE is not 100% fit yet.
JE should not be relied upon for 90 mins - I would rather he came on or off at half time. We have a squad of close to 40 and JE is not 100% fit yet. northofwatfordpete
  • Score: 0

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