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Lloyd Doyley could make Watford return against QPR but USA international is a doubt
Malky Mackay has suggested Lloyd Doyley could make a surprise return tonight as Watford look to cement their place in the Championship at Loftus Road.
A win against Queens Park Rangers today will make the Hornets mathematically safe from relegation due to Crystal Palace and Sheffield Wednesday playing each other on the last day of the season.
Doyley scored his only professional goal in the 3-1 win over Rangers in December - his header was unanimously voted goal of the season at Sunday’s awards dinner.
Doyley and forward Will Buckley have both been missing since the beginning of the month due to hamstring injuries. The full back could return tonight but it seems Buckley may not play again this season.
Hornets boss Mackay said: "Both are progressing nicely, Lloyd is certainly closer to full fitness than Will Buckley. I don’t see it being long before Lloyd is involved. He will be coming with us tomorrow and we’ll take a look at him in the morning. To be fair, Lloyd has got more of a chance of being involved over the next three games than Will Buckley."
Jay DeMerit is also a doubt after coming off injured during Saturday’s 4-1 defeat to Leicester City.
Yesterday Mackay said: "We’ve got a couple that are touch and go, we’ve got the same squad from Saturday but there’s a couple who we’re going to have to look at tomorrow morning."
Heidar Helguson will definitely miss tonight’s game as he is ineligible to play against his parent club.
The striker was only a substitute on Saturday due to a groin injury and Mackay admitted the fact he would miss the QPR game did play a factor in him starting on the bench at the Walkers Stadium.
Mackay said: "We couldn’t really risk something major happening to him when we have still got two games to play, it was certainly fully in my mind that he wasn’t able to play against QPR, so we decided to protect him and make sure he’s right for the last two games."
The absence of Helguson and injuries to Buckley and leading goalscorer Tom Cleverley could see Henri Lansbury once again play off Danny Graham up front.
Martin Taylor has returned to full fitness and may start in place of DeMerit or Dale Bennett after coming off the bench at the weekend.
Should Doyley start, then it is likely he will replace 18-year-old Lee Hodson at left back.
QPR have a number of first team players out injured. Damion Stewart is out with a fractured skull, Matthew Connolly has an ankle problem and QPR captain Martin Rowlands and former Hornet Gavin Mahon both have long-term knee injuries.
Rangers have secured their Championship status and it has been suggested that Neil Warnock may opt to make a number of changes, with youngsters Antonio German, Angelo Balanta and Josh Parker possibly earning rare starts.
Watford are only two points from the relegation places and one point above Crystal Palace and the Eagles boss Paul Hart is concerned by reports Warnock may pick a weakened side.
He told the Evening Standard: “We would hope QPR will put out their strongest team. Clubs have to stay honest with their selections at this stage of the season and that is generally what happens in the English leagues. I would not try to pick Neil Warnock's best team. We just hope it's their strongest.”
QPR have only won two of their last 13 matches against Watford and one of the previous seven against the Hornets at Loftus Road.
Watford’s record of two wins in their last 14 matches has seen them slide down the table but QPR are on a poor run of form themselves, with just one win in nine.