Watford - Bristol City Preview (H) - September 22
AFTER A good showing against Brighton & Hove Albion on Tuesday failed to yield any points, and a good second-half at Bolton Wanderers the previous week left Watford empty-handed, the Hornets will be looking to get back to winning ways at they host Bristol City this weekend.
The Robins have made a decent start to their first full campaign under the guidance of Derek McInnes, winning three of their opening six matches leaving them 9th in the Championship table.
It`s been a far cry from the end of last term where McInnes appeared unable to find the winning formula in the west country, but having been able to bring in some of his own players over the summer, the former West Brom midfielder looks to have City moving in the right direction again.
The signing of former West Ham United and MK Dons striker Sam Baldock in particular has been inspired. Signed from the Hammers for an undisclosed free, the 23 year-old has immediately begun repaying it with four goals in his first four games for the Robins.
A former England U20 cap, Baldock spent just one season at the Boleyn Ground, making 23 appearances for the east Londonders, scoring five times. Despite having a decent starts to goals ratio, it was inevitable that the 5`7 forward did not fit Sam Allardyce`s brand of football and a move away from the Hammers was always on the cards - to Bristol City`s benefit.
Between the sticks, former Watford 'keeper David James has departed, released at the end of his contract, with nearly-Watford stopper Tom Heaton replacing him.
The 24 year-old gloveman left Cardiff City at the end of his contract this summer & had agreed personal terms with Watford before the plug was pulled on the deal and Manuel Almunia joined the Golden Boys instead.
Impressive last term in Cardiff`s run the Carling Cup final, Heaton came through the youth ranks at Old Trafford before switching to south Wales via six loan spells.
Also picked up on a free transfer was 24 year-old winger Paul Anderson. The former Nottingham Forest man left the Tricky Trees at the end of the campaign, signing for McInne`s side on a two-year contract.
The former Forest flyer started his career at Liverpool without making a league appearance before moving to Swansea City on-loan. Anderson impressed sufficiently with the Swans and Billy Davies took the winger on-loan the following season before snapping him up for £250k the next summer.
Tricky and direct, Anderson will be the man supplying the ammunition for Baldock and co.
As ever Gianfranco Zola has a plethora of injury and fitness issues to sift through when selecting his side for this clash.
John Eustace (back) and Prince Buaben (hamstring) are both definitely out, whilst Troy Deeney is building his way back to fitness. Geoffrey Mujangi Bia (muscle tightness) & Alex Geijo are both still out also.
Sean Murray suffered a dead leg in the Bolton defeat but could be ready to return.
Fitz Hall and Stephen McGinn both came through at least 45 minutes of a friendly on Wednesday, meaning McGinn at least is fit for selection.
Troy Deeney is fit enough to be considered for a place in the squad according to Zola who spoke on Thursday.
Joel Ekstrand was ill for the Brighton defeat and there has been no further update on his condition; or that of Marco Cassetti after he was withdrawn at half-time in the Brighton game due to concussion. Lloyd Doyley should deputise for the experienced Italian.
Finally, the non-inclusion of Jean-Alain Fanchone since his loan arrival is yet to be attributed to any injury or fitness issues.
Bristol City look set to be without Cole Skuse and Greg Cunningham, both of whom were withdrawn against Peterborough due to ankle injuries.
Watford: Almunia; Doyley, Nosworthy, Neuton, Pudil; Yeates, Hogg, Abdi; Forestieri, Iwelumo (c) & Vydra.
Bristol City: Heaton; Foster, Carey, Wilson, Fontaine; Woolford, Kilkenny, Elliott, Pearson; Baldock & Taylor.
Referee: Mr D Sheldrake