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Gianfranco Zola on Watford's transfer embargo, new signings and Tommy Smith
11:00am Friday 3rd August 2012 in Sport
Gianfranco Zola claims Watford’s transfer embargo has not negatively affected his pre-season plans and admits more players are likely to leave the club.
The Watford Observer understands the Hornets have been subject to a transfer embargo in recent weeks due to a finance agreement not being lodged with the football authorities correctly – which happened under the previous regime and before the Pozzos’ takeover took place.
Watford once again refused to comment on the transfer embargo – which was the same stance as the Football League when we contacted them both last week.
The Hornets have had seven new players training with the squad for most of pre-season but despite many of them confirming they had signed for the club in recent weeks, their arrivals were not confirmed until Monday.
When asked whether the transfer embargo had been frustrating, Zola replied: “It would have been more frustrating if I couldn’t have announced them at all. So it was ok.”
Zola stated there were currently no more players on trial at the club, although former Arsenal and Hibernian goalkeeper Graham Stack has been training with Watford this week. But that may have something to do with Jack Bonham being injured.
Watford currently have more than 30 professionals on their books, after the arrival of seven new players, and while many would qualify for the new Under-21 league which will be set-up this season, Zola is aware squad morale could be affected if a lot of the players are not featuring.
Zola said: “I am sure some players will go because we do not want to keep players that are not playing. The players want to play and they need to play and that is totally fair.
“We will see because we cannot keep a squad of 30 players so we will try to reduce the size.
“The performance level in the training sessions would not be as good if we had a very big squad as well, so we will evaluate the situation because we do not want unhappy people here. We will consider the situation.”
Monday saw the arrival of Manuel Almunia and Fitz Hall on free transfers and five season-long loans in the shape of Daniel Pudil, Almen Abdi, Ikechi Anya, Steve Leo Beleck and Matej Vydra. Profiles of all can be seen on Page 47.
The arrival of a goalkeeper, two defenders, a midfielder and three attack-minded players has added strength in depth to the squad.
But Zola is still assessing his squad and would not rule out the arrival of more signings.
He said: “I don’t really like talking about players that are not here. I am focused on the ones that are here.
“What we are trying to do though is improve the team and if we need to strengthen the team then there might be a couple of other signings but not many because the team is doing well.
“We could improve in a couple of positions but most of it is done.”
We understand Tommy Smith is one of the players Watford are keen to sign, and he is available after being deemed surplus to requirements at Queens Park Rangers.
But Zola refused to be drawn on Smith, or any other individuals.
He joked: “It is like fantasy football because we are not just being linked with Tommy Smith, we are being linked with 30 other players.
“I think it is unfair to speak about other players when I have a team who are working hard to make an impression here, but we will see.
“We are all working to make the team better and stronger and if we see an opportunity to improve the team then we will do that. But as far as I am concerned, my focus and attention is on the players we have.”
One player who has left Watford this week is David Mirfin, who joined former club Scunthorpe United on a free transfer after his contract was terminated by mutual consent.