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Almen Abdi still not ready for Watford comeback but 'number one' Manuel Almunia could return against Sheffield Wednesday
5:16pm Thursday 12th December 2013 in Sport
Almen Abdi is still not ready to return to first-team action but Manuel Almunia is fit again as Watford look to end a run of seven games without a win on Saturday against Sheffield Wednesday.
Abdi has not played a competitive match since August 31 due to an on-going foot problem.
On Monday night, head coach Gianfranco Zola said he thought Abdi was “turning a corner” despite withdrawing from that day’s training session with minor discomfort.
Speaking at the fans’ forum, he said: “Abdi has been training with the team regularly. He trained today (Monday), Friday and Thursday and everything seems to be going well. Today he had a little something but it is looking very good.
“Hopefully we are turning a corner which is great news considering the importance and the influence he has on the team. We will need to see tomorrow (Tuesday) but it is looking good.”
But this afternoon Zola said: “I do not think he will be available. He is much better but he is still not 100 per cent. We have to wait a little bit longer.
“He is still not pain free. He has been out a long time and he is afraid of setbacks so he doesn’t want to risk it.”
One player who is back in contention is Almunia, who has missed the last four matches through illness and then a minor knee problem.
Zola has made no secret of the fact he considers Almunia his number one but Jonathan Bond is now in contention for the top spot after a string of good performances.
The head coach said: “Manuel is much better and should be involved [in the squad] on Saturday. It is good news.
“Manuel Almunia is still my number one but Jonathan Bond is doing very well so I have to decide if he (Bond) has to give up his place yet. Jonathan has been doing very well which has put him in contention to be number one.”
Gabriele Angella is fully fit after a thigh injury kept him out for a month and Josh McEachran is also available again after illness.
Lloyd Doyley could return to training tomorrow or Monday after a hamstring problem but Reece Brown has twisted his knee and has joined Essaid Belkalem on the long-term absentee list.
Tommie Hoban should return in January following ten months out with an ankle injury.
Watford have lost their last four home matches and are in 12th place, 14 points off the top two and six below the play-off spots. Sheffield Wednesday are 23rd in the table, level on points with bottom side Barnsley.
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