Barnsley Preview - Home, February 4
WATFORD WILL be looking to continue where they left off against Millwall having secured their first points of 2012 as they play host to Barnsley.
The Tykes have confounded all expectations this season under former Rochdale boss, Keith Hill.
Currently sat in a very healthy 14th place the Yorkshire outfit have even been as high as eighth as recently as December 5.
The January Transfer Window was not kind to Hill and co. and the loss of Portuguese forward Ricardo Vaz Te to West Ham will hit the club hard, much like the loss of our own Marvin Sordell.
Vaz Te remains the Tykes top-scorer on 10, proving something of a master-stroke from Hill who brought the nippy forward down from SPL outfit Hibernian over the summer.
Unlike the 'Orns, Barnsley do have other players who have been amongst the goals this season and second-top scorer Craig Davies has nine in 17 starts since stepping up from League Two Chesterfield.
Twenty-six year-old Welshman Davies has spent the majority of his career plundering goals in the lower leagues, leaving him with a highly respectable tally of 63 league goals in 166 league starts for the likes of Brighton, Yeovil, Port Vale, Stockport and Oldham.
Veteran forward Andy Gray has also been chipping in with goals too. Now 34, the Scot also has a very good record for his current employers with 20 from just 58 starts at Oakwell.
Gray, formerly of Charlton, Burnley, Sheffield United, Sunderland and Bradford among others, has wracked up transfer fees totaling over £2m during a 17-year playing career.
A battering ram of a forward, Nyron Nosworthy and Adrian Mariappa will have to be wary of the Harrogate-born forward's arial prowess.
Aside from the loss of their top-scorer, Barnsley had a good January Transfer window adding experience and quality with the likes of Exeter's adventurous full-back Scott Goldbourne, Leyton Orient skipper Stephen Dawson, Stoke City playmaker Michael Tonge on-loan and former Rochdale hotshot, Chris Dagnall.
Tonge in particular is top-drawer addition. The Manchester-born midfielder cost the Potters £2m upon promotion to the Premier League but has never never had a chance in Staffordshire.
However, during his eight-year association with Sheffield United, the 28 year-old was often found in devastating form. Blessed with a sweet left-foot and excellent set-piece ability, Tonge made his Tykes debut in the 3-2 win over Derby County in midweek.
Key man and skipper, Jacob Butterfield, will miss the clash as he is sidelined for the remainder of the campaign. New-signing Dawson arrived injured whilst Jim O'Brien and Jay McEveley are both out.
Sean Dyche is without Martin Taylor (toe) and Stephen McGinn (knee). Lloyd Doyley should continue at left-back and midweek goal-scorer Joe Garner looks set for a run up front with Troy Deeney.
Watford: Loach; Hodson, Mariappa, Nosworthy, Doyley; Murray, Eustace (c), Hogg, Kacaniklic; Deeney & Garner.
Barnsley: Steele; Wiseman, Edwards, Foster, McNulty; Done, Perkins, Smith, Tonge; Davies & Gray.
Match Officials: (R) Mr R East; (ARs) Mr D Blundell & Mr A Crysell; (4th) Mr J Hopkins.