Writer: Tom Bodell
Date:Thursday September 27 2012
WATFORD HEAD to the John Smith's, nee Galpharm, Stadium this Saturday as they face Huddersfield Town in the league for the first time since a 2-1 victory over the Terriers in August 2000. Neil Cox & Tommy Smith with the goals for Graham Taylor's side.
Promoted last season from League One after a marathan penalty shoot-out victory over Yorkshire rivals Sheffield United, Huddersfield have taken to life back in the second-tier almost immediately.
The loss of last season's top-scorer Jordan Rhodes appears to have galvanised the Terriers if anything, and with a whopping £8m in the bank, chairman Dean Hoyle will be rightfully pleased with the deal which saw the 40-goal forward move to Blackburn Rovers.
Sat comfortably in second place after seven matches, Simon Grayson's side will be looking to follow the examples set by Southampton and Norwich City in recent years in securing back-to-back promotions from the third-tier.
Victory on Monday night over one of the promotion favourites in Iain Holloway's Blackpool was emphatic as it comes with the Terriers running out 3-1 win winners in the Lancashire rain. Goals from Lee Novak, Oliver Norwood and James Vaughan securing the win which took Grayson's side to within two points of the summit & Brighton.
Scorer of the second goal on the night, Vaughan has had a tough few years due to injury after bursting onto the scene with Everton some seven years ago with a debut goal against Crystal Palac in the Premier League.
Since then the 24 year-old striker has suffered a succession of injuries and seen his progression stall. Last summer the Birmingham-born forward joined newly-promoted Norwich City in order to kick-start his career, but serious injury struck again ruling him out until April this year.
A loan switch to Huddersfield looks to be exactly what the 5'11 striker needs, bagging his first goal April 2011 in the demolition of the Tangerines - a goal scored on-loan at Leeds United.
Another man in need of a boost is Wolves' winger, Adam Hammill. The former Barnsley and Liverpool trickster joined the Terriers on-loan after being made available for transfer by Wanderers' boss Stale Solbakken.
The 24 year-old joined Wolves in January 2011 from Barnsley but made just 10 league starts in 18 months with the west Midlands outfit.
Hammill has been quick to settle in at the John Smiths Stadium, making the right impression by driving to Ipswich immediately after signing in order to make his Terriers' debut the next day.
An England U21 international, Hammill has also enjoyed loan spells with Dunfermline, Barnsley, Southampton, Blackpool and Middlesbrough.
As well as taking Keith Southern from Blackpool, Grayson signed another midfielder he had previously worked with, snaring the transfer-listed Adam Clayton from Leeds United.
Why the former Manchester City man was available is beyond comprehension, but after two impressive seasons at Elland Road the 23 year-old moved across Yorkshire for an undisclosed fee.
Manchester-born Clayton has settled in well at Huddersfield, bagging twice in his opening seven games for his new employers.
A tenacious, box-to-box midfielder, Clayton brings guile, bite & Championship experience to the Terrier's engine-room.
There was of course one notable exchange between Watford and Town this summer with highly-rated Head of Football Business Ross Wilson taking up a similar position with Huddersfield after being replaced by Gian Luca Nani. The Scot enjoys a burgeoning reputation in the game and all at Vital Watford wish Ross the very best in his new venture at Town.
Defender Joel Lynch was suspended for the trip to Bloomfield Road on Monday, Anthony Gerrard replacing him at the centre of defence. Following such a strong showing Grayson will be hard-pushed to tinker with his starting XI.
Once again Gianfranco Zola has a plethora of injury and fitness issues to contend with in selecting his XI.
John Eustace (back), Alex Geijo (groin) & Cristian Battocchio (groin) are all out. Geoffrey Mujangi Bia & Jean-Alain Fanchone look unlikely to feature.
Joel Ekstrand and Jonathan Hogg missed the Bristol City game due to illness and as yet, there has been no update on their respective conditions.
Fitz Hall and Troy Deeney were fit involved to be involved from the bench against the Robins and Zola could be tempted to introduce the pair earlier on Saturday with the benefit of a further week's training behind them.
Predicted starting XIs:
Huddersfield Town: Smithies; Hunt, Gerrard, Clarke (c), Dixon; Southern, Clayton, Norwood; Novak, Ward; Vaughan.
Watford: Almunia (c); Cassetti, Nosworthy, Neuton, Pudil; Yeates, Chalobah, Abdi; Murray, Deeney & Vydra.
Referee: Mr G Sutton.
Date:Thursday September 27 2012
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