Almen Abdi made his long-awaited return to action on Tuesday night but Watford's head of medical has stressed the player's recovery is still not over.
Abdi came on to a standing ovation on Tuesday night, when he played a quarter of an hour during the Hornets’ 2-0 FA Cup win over Bristol City.
The 27-year-old had not played since August 31 due to an unusual foot injury, which had seen his comeback extended on a few occasions in recent months.
Abdi is suffering with Plantar Fasciitis, which has resulted in the inflammation of his plantar. The plantar fascia is a tough and flexible band of tissue that runs under the sole of the foot and connects the heel bone with the bones of the foot, acting as a kind of shock absorber to the foot.
It can cause tiny tears to develop inside the tissue of the plantar fascia and this can lead to it thickening, resulting in heel pain, and the surrounding tissue and heel bone can also sometimes become inflamed.
Watford's head of medical, Marco Cesarini, explained yesterday (Thursday) that whilst Abdi had not suffered any negative reaction to his brief outing midweek, it is important to be careful with the Swiss international.
Cesarini said: “You can’t be sure that it has gone because this kind of injury is not easy to measure. While he is playing, it feels good. The problem is the day after and the reaction.
“We are still monitoring him and we have to consider if giving him 20 minutes or half an hour would help him or be dangerous and expose him to a few days rest.”
Cesarini continued: “It is not the kind of injury that you can treat with the same treatment for everybody because people react in different ways.
“It is not like a fracture or a pulled hamstring where you know exactly what the time frame should be. You never know with this injury. It could be longer or sooner and could depend on the kind of person that you are treating.
“With Almen, he’s having a good reaction but we still have doubts.”
Head coach Beppe Sannino added: “Almen is a great player for Watford. He had an amazing reception from the crowd on Tuesday night but we are still having to keep tabs on him because it is a long-term injury. We have to see what reaction he has after games – day by day and week by week.
"It is not a situation which changes after just 20 minutes but because he is a great professional, we always have to respect his feelings and sensations in his foot. We are asking him and he is asking us about when he can come back.”
When asked if Abdi was able to play the full 90 minutes at the weekend, Sannino replied: "Of course he is lacking fitness but what is important, is that if he is feeling good, then we can push on."
Watford's supporters gave Abdi a superb reception when he came on as a second-half substitute.
And after the match, Sannino said: “I am happy for Abdi because I can see he is part of the supporters.
“He was able to get into the supporters’ hearts because he was performing well and he deserved that.
“I am very happy for him tonight and it was great to see the standing ovation when he came on."
“Of course he is not 100 per cent but for me it was very important to give him the chance to be part of the team and to feel the smell of the game,” he added.
Abdi’s introduction helped lift the 6,173 home fans midweek and Sannino says the players understand the onus is on them to rouse the supporters.
“I can say the players have now understood something important: that it is not the supporters who have to push us but it is us who have to push the supporters,” said Sannino.
“Like this evening when we were growing during the game, the supporters were very helpful for us.”