Huddersfield Town Preview (H) - January 19
WATFORD will be looking to build on their impressive win at high-fliers Middlesbrough this Saturday when they return to Vicarage Road to take on winless-in-11 Huddersfield Town.
After a flying start to the campaign the Terriers have tailed off in recent weeks and find themselves in 17th, with an eight-point gap between themselves and the relegation zone.
Watford`s win at the Galpharm Stadium earlier in the season provided not only one of the more memorable victories this season, but the start of Gianfranco Zola`s 3-5-2 system and a win which saw the Hornets victorious in seven of their next 12 N.Power Championship matches.
Despite their poor run of form, it seems highly unlikely that the Yorkshire outfit will be dragged into a relegation battle, and as this is only their first season back in the second-tier following promotion last term under Simon Grayson and Lee Clark.
Grayson wasted no time in adding to his side this January with the loan addition of Leicester City midfielder, Neil Danns.
Now 30, the Liverpool-born midfielder spent a month on-loan with Bristol City earlier in the season before linking up with the Terriers for the remainder of the campaign.
After making his named with Colchester United, the creative midfielder joined Birmingham City on a free transfer but spent just two years in the Midlands as he struggled for game time. A £600,000 move to Crystal Palace put him back on the move before another move to the Midlands and Leicester City.
With the Foxes riches and squad depth, Danns has found himself out of the picture fairly quickly, making just 22 league starts for Nigel Pearson`s side since his 2011 switch. Doubtless a talented ball-playing midfielder, Danns will be keen to just get some playing time under his belt once more.
With Jordan Rhodes departing for Blackburn Rovers in the summer, Lee Novak has stepped up to the plate and leads the club`s goal-scoring charts along with loanee Jermaine Beckford.
Signed from Blue Square Premier outfit Gateshead in 2009, Novak had previously been on the books with non-league outfit Newcastle Blue Star, after beginning his professional career at Scottish side Gretna.
Born in Newcastle, the six-footer was a Newcastle United fan growing up and bagged 29 times in 47 for Newcastle Blue Star before stepping up to professional football with the 'Heed and rattling in 16 in just 18 appearances.
Since stepping up to professional football, Novak has continued his fine form, bagging 34 league goals in just 84 league starts for the Yorkshire outfit.
Also on four league goals for the season is former Watford trialist Beckford. Also on-loan from Leicester City, the former Wealdstone, Uxbridge, Leeds United, Scunthorpe United, Carlisle United and Everton hitman is another to have failed to settle at the King Power Stadium.
Prolific during his time at Elland Road, Beckford bagged 72 league goals in 116 starts for the Whites before joining Premier League Everton on a free transfer.
After a slow start the 29 year-old found his feet, netting eight in just 15 Barclays Premier League starts. It was to be his only season in the top-flight, moving to Leicester for £3m ahead of last season.
Nine goals in 35 starts was a meagre return for a player with his predatory instinct and the nippy striker has subsequently been loaned to Huddersfield for the season.
Watford only have concerns over Jonathan Hogg, Fitz Hall (both hamsting) and Tommie Hoban (achilles), meaning Gianfranco Zola will probably name the same XI victorious on Teesside.
Watford: Almunia (c); Doyley, Nosworthy, Ekstrand; Cassetti, Battocchio, Chalobah, Abdi, Pudil; Vydra & Deeney.
Huddersfield Town: Smithies; Hunt, Clarke (c), Gerrard, Dixon; Norwood, Clayton, Danns; Scannell, Beckford & Vaughan.
Referee: Mr S Duncan.