Almen Abdi played more than an hour for Watford last night as the Hornets exited the Herts Senior Cup after a 2-0 quarter final defeat against Boreham Wood.
The Swiss international, who was partnered in midfield by Ross Jenkins in the first half, was making his first appearance since the end of January as he continues his recovery from a foot problem.
Watford’s current player of the year hadn't started a match since August and has struggled for the majority the campaign with an unusual foot condition called Plantar Fasciitis, which leads to unexpected sharp pains in his foot.
However, he was included in a youthful side at Meadow Park and played 62 minutes before being replaced by Carl Stewart.
Youth team coach Dave Hughes said Abdi showed his quality in the defeat and also praised Ross Jenkins who is recovering from a pelvis injury.
“I’m delighted that Ross Jenkins got 45 minutes under his belt,” Hughes told the club website. "It’s been a long, hard period of time for him.
“He’s been working very hard to get himself fit, and it was good to see him back on the pitch and playing well.
“Almen Abdi has been out for a significant period, and to get 65 minutes was ideal. He showed his quality and it was great for the young lads to play alongside someone like that.”
Beppe Sannino was asked about Abdi’s return after the 3-3 draw with Blackburn Rovers and, in English, he said: “Almen played 60 minutes which is very good because he is very important for us.”
Goals from Wycombe Wanderers loanee Junior Morias and former Hornet Matty Whichelow secured Wood’s passage in the county competition.
The hosts started brightly and Daniel Wilks had to be alert to deny Whichelow and Graeme Montgomery.
Benn Nunn then shot over from a corner before he saw an effort tipped wide by Wilks.
Ricky Shakes and Morias missed headers and Lee Angol wasted a good chance in front of goal.
The Hornets created a chance midway through the half as Dennon Lewis forced a good stop from James Russell and then Abdi struck over from 25 yards.
Wood then broke the deadlock. Morias collected the ball and fired into the top corner from distance.
Abdi missed a good chance to equalise before the break as he shot wide.
In the second period, Wilks had to stop a header from teammate Jorell Johnson before Whichelow was again thwarted.
The home side added a second goal on the hour mark as Watford Academy graduate Whichelow found the net.
Abdi was withdrawn soon after and the Hornets were unable to break down a stubborn Wood defence.
The hosts secured victory and booked a semi-final tie against Hitchin Town.
Watford: Wilks; Johnson, O’Nien, Doherty; Barnum-Bobb, Jenkins (Cox 46), Abdi (Stewart 62), Hope, Bawling; Folivi (Choi 74), Lewis.
Substitutes not used: Otudeko, Young.
Boreham Wood: Russell, Nunn, Morgan, Garrard, Hill, Reynolds, Shakes (Pires 62), Whichelow, Morias (Brown 76), Angol (Oyenuga 76), Montgomery.
Substitutes not used: Noto, Courtnage.