Gianfranco Zola is confident highly-rated goalkeeper Jonathan Bond will sign a new contract with Watford.

A number of the youngster’s fellow Academy graduates have already signed long-term contracts, such as Sean Murray, Connor Smith and Tommie Hoban, but Bond’s current deal is due to expire in the summer.

Tabloid rumours this week suggest Newcastle United and Reading are interested in the 19-year-old but Zola told the Watford Observer: “The club is dealing with it and I am confident it will be dealt with.”

On the speculation, he added: “Speculation is part of football and I can’t spend too much time thinking about that, especially when I have a game coming up.

“There are people at the club who look after those kind of things well.”

Bond, who was born in Hemel Hempstead and went to school in Berkhamsted, joined the Hornets as a ten-year-old and has been around the first-team squad for some time, earning his first professional contract in July 2010, shortly after his 17th birthday.

The goalkeeper, who was called up to the full Wales squad in October 2010 whilst still technically a second-year scholar, said he had no reason to “look elsewhere” when asked about his contract negotiations back in November.

Bond explained: “The problem with contracts is they can drag on for ages as they are difficult to sort out but – and I know it is a cliché – I am more worried about preparing for Saturdays and the games are just going by.

“I am not worried about it because I am learning every day and I am more involved with the first team this season. At the age of 19, that is very unusual in the Championship so I cannot complain and it is a great opportunity. I am privileged.

“I am still very young in terms of goalkeeping so I am not thinking about leaving,” he continued.

“The new regime excites me and I can see us pushing for the play-offs or challenging for the title, maybe not this season, but next season so there is no reason I’d be looking elsewhere.”

Bond has started Watford’s last two matches due to Manuel Almunia’s hamstring injury and Zola has confirmed the Spaniard will again be out against Blackpool tomorrow (Saturday).

He said: “Manuel is not going to be available on Saturday because he has unfortunately had a setback. It’s not too bad but he’s not going to be part of the team on Saturday. We don’t have a time frame yet.”

Bond was at fault for Sheffield Wednesday’s goal on Tuesday but it was a solitary error during a week which has seen the youngster excel in the absence of Almunia.

The Academy graduate made a host of superb saves against the Owls and during Friday’s draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers to ensure the Hornets took four points from a possible six in his first two Championship starts.

“Our keeper was great again,” Zola said. “He is showing everyone the quality that he has. But I knew he would do well for us."

He continued: “To be honest I saw it [Bond’s excellent character] when I saw him play in the friendlies; he was always calm and in control. It is very unusual for someone who is just 19 year old.

“Now he is being rewarded for his patience and the work he has always done. I am happy and it is a nice story.

“Hopefully he can continue because until we have Manuel back, he will have to keep doing a good job for us.”