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Watford captain John Eustace fit to start against Crystal Palace tonight
Malky Mackay has confirmed captain John Eustace is fit to start against Crystal Palace tonight but Watford will be without two of their other “important” midfielders.
“John has done great in his rehab work and has trained very hard with Matt Springham, our fitness coach,” Mackay said.
“He joined in the last few days of training last week on Thursday, Friday and over the weekend so he is fit and raring to go.
“I am delighted he is back fit and it will be a bonus to get him back in. He has been an important part of my team in the last 18 months and is one of my leaders.
“He has shown great commitment to our football club and I am delighted to get him back in the squad for Tuesday night.”
The timing of Eustace’s return is another boost for Watford with the skipper’s replacement Ross Jenkins being ruled out of the Palace match.
Jenkins failed a late fitness test prior to Saturday’s game, which meant Piero Mingoia was a late call-up to the starting XI, and the Academy graduate will join Scotland midfielder Don Cowie on the sidelines.
Mackay said: “Don and Ross are the only two injuries but they are important ones because they are both guys who have experience in the division and for the size of our squad, we need everyone fit.
“They are both looking at a couple of weeks. Don is just about ready to start going outside so he is a couple of weeks away and Ross’ injury has just happened so we will have to wait and see what happens with him.”
The absence of Cowie means Tottenham Hotspur loanee Andros Townsend is likely to return on left wing, after being cup tied at the weekend, and should Eustace not start, Manchester United youngster Danny Drinkwater may make his debut.
Watford have been very fortunate with injuries this season but Mackay also believes his medical team deserve credit for the Hornets recent injury record.
“Our medical department have worked wonders this year in terms of keeping our injuries to a minimum,” Mackay said.
“Impact injuries are something which you cannot affect but certainly muscle injuries are things you can help and Richard Collinge, our head of medical, has been fantastic in installing a routine the players have taken on board.
“It has helped the players and you can see that with some of the players who have played a lot of games this year.”
Crystal Palace have the worst away form in the Championship this season but they do have an excellent recent record against Watford, winning the last three.
And under new manager Dougie Freedman, the Eagles have also become more resilient, keeping a clean sheet in their last two games.
“I am absolutely delighted Dougie has been given the chance there,” Mackay said.
“I know Dougie very well, we played against each other for a number of years and were against each other as reserve managers a few years ago.
“He was brought back into the football club again and he is someone who knows the club very well, and the owners feel he is the man who can take Crystal Palace forward.”