Writer: Tom Bodell
Date:Friday March 16 2012
WATFORD PLAY host to struggling Coventry City this weekend, looking to build on three excellent results in the space of a week, having beaten Burnley and Derby County, as well as drawing at West Ham.
It`s been a less positive time for the Sky Blues however, currently marooned in the bottom three where they have been since October 24 of last year.
Averaging less than a goal a game and with top-scorer Lukas Jutkiewicz since departed for Middlesbrough, it seems inevitable that the Ricoh Arena will be hosting League One football next season.
Like so many former Premier League regulars it is the familiar tale of financial woe which as struck down the Midlands outfit and like many more before them the slide looks inevitable at this stage, the question is, where will it end?
Rookie manager Andy Thorn is in charge these days, having taken over from Aidy Boothroyd last season, how the Sky Blues` hierarchy must wish they had stuck with the former Hornet`s supremo now. Former Wimbledon defender Thorn has overseen a miserable record with City, securing just 10 wins from his 46 games in charge, losing exactly half of those games.
The Sky Blues` squad looks unfathomably weak on paper and with just 15 what you would describe as 'senior` outfield professionals on the books, it isn`t hard to see why the side have faltered so spectacularly this season. Littered amongst a collection of youngsters are a few experienced heads, the likes of Hermann Hreidarsson, Clive Platt and Gary McSheffrey, recently unfancied elsewhere anyway.
McSheffrey is however top-scorer now following Jutkiewicz`s departure, with six goals. The Coventry-born winger-cum-forward returned to his first professional club last season on a free transfer having fallen out the first-team picture at Birmingham City and flattered to deceive on loan at Leeds United.
A vastly-experienced Championship performer, McSheffrey is rapidly approaching 300 league starts and is just 15 goals off of the 100 mark in the league to boot - a very respectable tally for someone used predominantly in the wide areas.
In midfield, Sammy Clingan is another experienced head within the youthful Sky Blues squad. A Northern Ireland international, Clingan made his name with Nottingham Forest, earning a bosman move to Norwich City before being snapped up six months later by the Midlanders.
Hard-working and industrious, Clingan also provides a more refined edge too and is a good distributor of the ball and certainly knows a thing or two about rattling in long-range efforts.
At the back, 37 year-old Icelandic international Hreidarsson brings a wealth of experience to an otherwise crèche-like backline.
The rugged centre-back/left-back has only made two appearances since his free transfer arrival from Portsmouth, but if nothing else his experience will be invaluable around the training ground.
Hreidarsson has made over 450 appearances in English football, turning out for the likes of Brentford, Crystal Palace, Wimbledon, Ipswich Town and latterly Portsmouth for whom he made 88 league starts, playing in Europe and securing the F.A Cup with Harry Redknapp.
Watford boss Sean Dyche has a virtually fully-fit squad to choose from after Martin Taylor came through a practice match against Reading on Monday afternoon.
Stephen McGinn will not make the matchday squad despite coming through the same tie, but everyone else is fit for selection at this stage. Dyche should name the same XI that was victorious at Derby a week ago.
Coventry boss Thorn will assess striker Cody McDonald and midfielder Carl Baker after they were both substituted in the draw with Birmingham City last time out.
Watford: Kuszczak; Doyley, Mariappa, Nosworthy, Dickinson; Murray, Eustace (c), Hogg, Kacaniklic; Deeney & Garner.
Coventry City: Murphy; Keogh, Clarke, Cranie, Cameron; Baker, Clingan, Norwood, McSheffrey; McDonald & Nimely.
Match Officials: (R) Mr C Webster; (ARs) Mr O Saliy & Mr A Slaughter; (4th) Mr R Aitkin.
Date:Friday March 16 2012
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