Posh Preview - Home, March 13th
Watford take on Peterborough this Saturday in the second of three home games in seven days. The Hornet`s handed Peterborough a rare win back in December at London Road and their only victory in 13 attempts under former Tamworth and Kettering gaffer, Mark Cooper. Cooper has since been replaced by former Motherwell and Stockport County boss, Jim Gannon. Despite winning a couple of his opening fixtures in charge the Irishman has conceded the Posh will most likely be relegated as they sit a mere 13 points from safety, requiring "three times as many victories as we`ve managed all season."
Central to Peterborough`s rise from the fourth-tier of English football was the deadly trio of George Boyd, Craig Mackail-Smith and Aaron MacLean. In spite of huge success at this level with a dozen goals in the league, former Stevenage winger-cum-forward Boyd has been allowed to move on an 'emergency loan` to join high-flyers Nottingham Forest for the remainder of the season. Watford fan, Craig Mackail-Smith had the opportunity to join the Hornet`s on loan in January knocked back by director of football Barry Fry, though Gannon confirmed he`d let the peroxide-blonde forward leave on loan for regular football. Even powerful forward MacLean is having trouble finding a run of games and form despite being appointed captain earlier in the campaign. A sulk followed after he was denied the chance to leave and a subsequent transfer request denied leaving MacLean sulking amongst the subs for much of Gannon`s tenure to date.
Another key figure in Paul Coutts left in January to join former boss Darren Ferguson at PNE following an impressive couple of seasons with the Posh having initially joined from the Scottish non-leagues.
So, with the old guard slowly being moved on, including manager Darren Ferguson (now at the helm at Deepdale), new figures are looking to fill the void left by the super trio.
'Keeper Joe Lewis remains, dispute reputed interest from Premier League clubs, the former Norwich City stopper cost a paltry 400k after an impressive loan spell at Morecambe caught the eye of then gaffer Fergie Jnr. In impressive form again this season it seems likely the 6`4" 'keeper will be on his way to more glamorous surroundings sooner rather than later but a season spent behind a leaky defence will have given him plenty of shot-stopping practice.
That 'leaky defence` is largely made up of non/lower-league defenders picked up by Peterborough`s impressive scouting network; typical of the club`s policy property magnate Darragh MacAnthony took charge. Youngster Ryan Bennett was signed on loan from Grimsby Town where he earned rave reviews in a short but successful spell with the Marriners. A centre half by trade the 20 year-old is also capable of slotting in at right back also. Bennett was allegedly a Hornet`s target last Summer but a 500k switch to London Road put paid to that idea. Left back Scott Griffiths was plucked from League Two outfit Dagenham and Redbridge. Powerful centre-half Exodus Geoghagen was signed from Kettering on loan before joining permanently in January, the six footer scored the winner against Watford on December 16th. Former Spurs youngster Charlie Lee is a classy act and has been with the London Road outfit since 2007, he`s since gone on to make over 100 league appearances for the club. Former MK Dons centre half and Wales cap Craig Morgan is still a mainstay of the defence whilst Gabriel Zakuani, former Fulham and Leyton Orient centre back has been with Gannon`s side since last season after an initial loan.
On the subject of loans, Peterborough currently have five players on temporary deals - Arsenal`s right back Kerrea Gilbert, West Brom forward Reuben Reid, Brighton forward Liam Dickinson (who impressed on loan at Blackpool last season), Charlton flop striker, Izale McLeod and finally Wolves young centre-cum-right back, Mark Little.
The Posh will be without former Lincoln midfielder Lee Frecklington who misses out due to a calf injury but Josh Simpson could replace him after returning from illness. Also missing out is winger Chris Whelpdale with a groin injury so former Chesterfield loanee Dominic Green may well continue in midfield for the visitors.
Watford are able to welcome back Tom Cleverley who has been missed horribly for the past three games meaning Jon Harley will surely be back amongst the substitutes. Will Hoskins could be in line for a rare starting berth with Heidar Helguson short of form.
Likely Watford XI
Mariappa DeMerit (c) Taylor Doyley
Cowie Lansbury Eustace Cleverley
Likely Peterborough XI
Little Morgan Zakuani Lee
Green Torres Rowe
Mackail-Smith MacLean Dickinson