Writer: Tom Bodell
Date:Friday September 14 2012
WATFORD ARE back on the road following the international break as they head north to face Owen Coyle`s Bolton Wanderers this Saturday, a team entwined in the Hornet`s recent history for all the right reasons.
It was of course the Trotters that the Hornet`s brushed past 13 years ago on their way to the Premiership on a glorious May afternoon beneath Wembley`s famous twin towers. Goals from Nicky Wright and Allan Smart did the damage for Graham Taylor`s men on that famous day, but after the debacle at Derby two Saturday`s ago, any kind of win would do for Gianfranco Zola`s current side.
Much the same goes for Coyle`s men who have not taken too well to second-tier life, collecting just four points from their opening four n.Power Championship clashes this season.
An opening day defeat at neighbours & Coyle`s former employers Burnley was a sobering experience, though the Lancashire outfit followed that up with the 2-0 defeat of Derby County. A 2-2 draw with high-fliers Nottingham Forest was a decent result before a 3-1 humbling at the hands of Hull City before the international break intervened.
Much like Zola`s Hornets, there`s work to be done at the Reebok Stadium.
Despite a large number of the squad that saw the club relegated from the Premier League departing over the summer, Coyle has been loath to add too many new faces, instead preferring to hand more prominent roles to previous back-benchers within the squad.
One such example is former Watford striker Marvin Sordell. The 21 year-old made just three appearances for Coyle`s ailing side last season after a Ł3.5m January switch.
However, back in his domain of the Championship the England U21 and Team GB forward has become a regular, starting all four league clashes and one League Cup tie. It was the Forest draw that saw Sordell open his account for the club, with another Hornet in Chris Eagles getting the hosts other goal.
One man who Coyle was without for almost the entirety of last term was star winger, Lee Chung-Yong. The tricky South Korean missed all but a couple of games after breaking his leg in a pre-season match against Newport County.
A 40-cap Korean international, Lee has returned to the fold this season, an ever-present in the league and a crucial cog in the side providing service for the likes of Sordell and his experience strike partner Kevin Davies.
Coyle recruited another pacey wideman on-loan in the form of Arsenal`s young attacker Benik Afobe. The former Huddersfield Town and Reading loanee, 19, arrives highly-rated and has represented England at U16, U17 & U19 level.
The Leyton-born flier is surprisingly big for his position but packs a punch in terms of his pace & signed a professional contract with the Gunners in 2010. Like Jack Wilshere & Ryo Miyachi before him, Afobe will be looking to reap the benefits of a productive loan spell under Coyle`s stewardship.
Striker David N`Gog is ready to go for this clash, having recovered from an on-going back complaint leaving Coyle with a full squad to select from other than long-term absentees David Wheater and Stuart Holden.
Zola will have a number of players to assess before this one with loan signings Neuton, Joel Ekstrand and Nathaniel Chalobah not deemed fit enough to travel to Pride Park last time out.
Fitz Hall will not be fit, despite progressing well, the centre-back has suffered a minor injury during the international break. Striker Alex Geijo is fit to play however, and Stephen McGinn has returned to firs-team training.
Skipper John Eustace looks set to miss out again as he recovers from a minor back operation whilst fellow midfielder Prince Buaben is still sidelined by a thigh problem.
Finally, Geoffrey Mujangi Bia is out with a groin problem.
Bolton Wanderers: Bogdan; Mears, Knight, Ream, Ricketts; Lee, Spearing, M. Davies, Eagles; Sordell & K.Davies.
Watford: Almunia; Doyley, Ekstrand, Nosworthy, Pudil; Yeates, Hogg, Abdi; Murray, Iwelumo (c) & Vydra.
Referee: Mr E Ilderton.
Date:Friday September 14 2012
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Stats: Watford v Brighton (Saturday October 4 2014)
PREVIEW: Watford v Brighton (Friday October 3 2014)
AFH: Another Week, Another Manager (Wednesday October 1 2014)
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