Watford's promising defender Tommie Hoban should return to action in January after missing ten months with injury.

Hoban became an integral part of the Hornets’ defence last season despite being just 19 years old; making 18 consecutive starts between late September and New Year’s Day.

The Republic of Ireland Under-19 international damaged his Achilles in January and although he returned for one game in February, he missed the rest of the season with the problem.

The Watford Academy graduate visited specialists across the world and it was decided he would have surgery in the USA in late April.

Hoban, who spent time at the Isokinetic Clinic in London as part of his rehabilitation, has been doing some training with the rest of the squad and is nearing a return.

Speaking at last night's fans' forum, head coach Gianfranco Zola said: "I spoke to Tommie this morning and things are going well. Of course when you have a big operation like he had, the problem coming back is all the other bones and tendons get painful. He has had a delicate operation and is doing fantastically well.

"We are expected him to have his first official game in January.

"We know how important Tommie was last year and how important Tommie can be for this club in the future. He is a lovely boy and personally I am delighted.

"Next month we will organise a game for him and we will be very pleased to see him on the pitch."

Almen Abdi is also nearing a return. Read about his recovery here.