Writer: Tom Bodell
Date:Thursday April 5 2012
WATFORD KICK off their Easter schedule on Good Friday as they play host to Ian Holloway`s Blackpool.
The Tangerines will be looking to build some momentum as the Play Off picture gets tighter and tighter by the week, with all four sides currently tied on 63 points.
It`s been a long, hard season for Holloway and co. who have done well to lift themselves for a promotion tilt after the draining experience that was the Premier League. Former Queens Park Rangers boss Holloway has since admitted that the knock-on effects of top-flight relegation have affected both himself and his squad.
The relative success of the Lancashire outfit cost Holloway some of his most important players over the summer with David Vaughan moving to Sunderland on a free transfer whilst Charlie Adam signed for Liverpool in a Ł9.5m deal. Fellow midfielder Elliott Grandin also moved on, joining French side Nice on a season-long loan.
All the departures left Holloway needing to patch up his squad, and it`s been a continual stream of arrivals at Bloomfield Road this season. One deal which didn`t happen was the arrival of Robbie Fowler from Thailand. The former Liverpool legend and England international had impressed on trial to the extent that Holloway was prepared to offer the veteran forward a contract with the Seasiders. However, the sticking point was wages with Fowler offered the bulk of his salary as an appearance bonus.
One veteran striker who has made the move to Bloomfield Road though is former Hornet, Kevin Phillips. SuperKev has been in flying form once again for his latest club and even at the grand old age of 38, the Hitchin-born forward has top-scored for the Tangerines with 16 goals in just 19 league starts. A further 17 appearances off the bench have helped the ex-England striker to his impressive tally which leaves him just 10 shy of 250 league strikes.
In midfield, another veteran pulls the strings - former Rangers captain and ex-Birmingham teammate to SuperKev, Barry Ferguson.
The 34 year-old Scotland international also arrived on a free transfer from St Andrews over the summer and has assumed the captaincy at Bloomfield Road following his countryman Adam`s departure. A neat passer of the ball with good vision and the tenacity to break up the play as well, Ferguson has 37 league starts for 'Pool this season. The Glaswegian has over 270 league starts for Rangers to his name and also boasts an extremely full trophy cabinet following his two stints north of the border.
Providing creative flair in the midfield is former Wycombe Wanderers starlet, Matt Phillips.
Now an England U21 international, the former Adams Park academy graduate make a positive impression in the Premier League last year and has followed that up this season with a scintillating 16 goals from 37 appearances in the wide areas.
Quick and tricky, the Aylesbury-born winger is surprisingly tall at six foot but his dynamic attacking play is a constant menace for any Championship defence.
Holloway should only be without Czech Republic hitman Roman Bednar who is likely to miss the rest of the campaign. Wingers Phillips and Thomas Ince were re-called for the victory over league leaders Southampton whilst returning loanee Stephen Dobbie also started against the Saints in a particularly pacey-looking frontline.
Sean Dyche has no fresh injury concerns at this point and will name the same XI that defeated Leeds at Elland Road five days ago.
Adrian Mariappa and Stephen McGinn are the only two absentees with the former battling for a place in the matchday squad following an ankle issue.
Watford: Kuszczak; Doyley, Taylor, Nosworthy, Dickinson; Yeates, Eustace (c), Hogg, Murray; Iwelumo & Deeney.
Blackpool: Gilks; Eardley, Evatt (c), Baptiste, Harris; Phillips, Angel, Southern, Ince; Dobbie; Taylor-Fletcher.
Referee: Mr J Linington
Date:Thursday April 5 2012
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