Writer: Tom Bodell
Date:Friday March 9 2012
WATFORD WILL be looking for revenge on Saturday when they travel to Pride Park to face Derby County.
The Rams were of course victorious at the Vic` in the formative stages of this Championship season, Steven Davies netting a beauty with his side`s only effort on target.
Watford have progressed immeasurably under Sean Dyche since that August afternoon and will head to the Midlands with a renewed sense of vigour after a superb comeback against Burnley and an equally impressive point at West Ham on Wednesday night.
Nigel Clough`s side have progressed less so and after a bright start to the season which saw them flitting around the Play-Off places they are currently settled in 14th, just two places and as many points above the Hornets.
It was a quiet January for the Rams with only Mansfield prospect Tom Naylor moving to Pride Park permanently. One-time Hornet`s loanee Ryan Noble also joined Derby briefly, before returning to Sunderland following the expiry of his one-month loan agreement.
There was also the addition of Tottenham Hotspur prospect, Thomas Caroll. The 19 year-old midfielder had earned many plaudits for his displays in the Europa League for Spurs and was much sought-after in January. Born in Watford, the playmaker spent the second half of last season on loan at Leyton Orient before stepping up to the Championship on January 30 this year.
Much like Eddie Howe at Burnley, Clough had a clear direction he wanted to take with his squad last summer and the trimming began with some of the more experienced, older heads who had failed to deliver for a couple of seasons. The likes of Stephen Bywater, Dean Leacock and Russell Anderson departed, Robbie Savage retired and Lee Croft, Stephen Pearson and Miles Addison all moved out on loan.
Clough headed north of the border for a fair share of his annual recruitment drive, bringing in Scot`s Chris Maguire and Craig Bryson as well as completing deals for a number of players previously on loan - 'keeper Adam Fielding, winger Jamie Ward and striker Theo Robinson.
Robinson, 23, will be a familiar name to 'Orns fans after he came through the club`s academy system before turning professional with the Goldenboys in 2005. An exciting debut at QPR on the penultimate day of the 2005/06 season where he hit the crossbar with a bicycle kick promised more. However, limited chances and impending financial meltdown saw him join Huddersfield Town for 250k having impressed in the lower leagues previously. Thirteen in just 17 league starts wasn`t enough for Town who moved him onto Millwall - initially on loan before a permanent move. However, the Birmingham-born forward was desperate to move closer to his family and once again moved out on loan to join the Rams before securing a permanent transfer in the summer. Robinson has re-paid the faith of Clough with 11 league and cup goals in 25 league and cup starts.
Also amongst the goals is the aforementioned Davies, who has rattled in eight from 16 this campaign, despite missing a large chunk to have his head put back together after breaking his skull. Back with metal plates and bolts holding it all together, it`s like he`s never been away, and three goals in his last two have earned the side four points. Equally at home on the wing or up front, Davies has been at Pride Park since 2008, but has made nearly as many appearances from the bench as he has starts in an injury-hampered four years.
Clough is without Jason Ward (thigh) and should name the same XI that beat Blackpool in midweek.
For Watford, the concussed Dale Bennett will be doubtful meaning Martin Taylor could be rushed back if Nyron Nosworthy has not recovered from illness in time. Other than that, the same XI should be expected.
Derby County: Fielding; Green, Shackell, Barker (c), Roberts; Bryson, Caroll, Hendrick, B.Davies; S.Davies & Robinson.
Watford: Kuszczak; Doyley, Mariappa, Nosworthy, Dickinson; Murray, Eustace (c), Hogg, Kacaniklic; Deeney & Iwelumo.
Match Officials: (R) Mr P Miller; (ARs) Mr D Ford & Mr A Horton; (4th0 )Mr S Ross.
Date:Friday March 9 2012
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