Leicester City Preview (A) - May 9
AFTER the disappointment of missing out on automatic promotion last Saturday, Watford return to action quickly for a second bite at the Premier League cherry as they face Leicester City in the play-offs.
The Foxes snuck back into the top-six on a memorable final day of the npower Championship season, Anthony Knockaert`s late winner doing for rivals Nottingham Forest and Bolton Wanderers as Nigel Pearson`s men lined up a meeting with Zola`s side.
Goals from Andy King and Matty James had seen the Foxes tied at two-apiece with their great east Midlands rivals before Knockaerts last-gasp winner ended the Tricky Trees' own play-off aspirations.
Watford only beat City in their penultimate game of the regular season - a 2-1 win at the King Power Stadium a couple of Fridays ago - Nathaniel Chalobah weighing in with a game-winning screamer from north of 30 yards out.
Whilst it was undoubtedly devastating to lose out on automatic promotion in the final minutes of the regular season after working so hard to haul ourselves back into it, few teams get this second chance to win promotion to the Premier League.
A big, strong, side equipped with plenty of guile too, Leicester did not cause Zola`s side undue problems in the league meeting at the King Power and Watford`s record against the east Midlands outfit this season reads played two, won two.
Going into the end-of-season-lottery, form of course counts for little, but if nothing else the Golden Boys will at least hold that slightly psychological edge over Pearson`s side in the form of that most recent victory.
The height of the Hornet`s task will be increased somewhat by the absence of striker Troy Deeney, unavailable for suspension after being dismissed for two yellow cards against the Tigers at the beginning of May.
Leicester welcome back Irish international Sean St. Ledger, who`s loan deal at Millwall has expired.
There are doubts over the fitness of left-back Paul Konchesky and right-back Richie de Laet with the former missing the Forest win altogether and the latter substituted.
Jeffery Schlupp and Liam Moore would be the two likely to fill in if either play was unavailable to feature on Thursday evening.
Deeney`s unavailability leaves Zola with a straight choice of two from three, with Fernando Forestieri, Matej Vydra and Alex Geijo his remaining options up front.
Between the sticks, Manuel Almunia (hamstring) and Jonathan Bond (facial injuries) could both be passed fit to feature against the Foxes after the unprecedented goalkeeping debacle at the weekend.
Leicester City: Schmeichel; de Laet, Morgan (c), Keane, Schlupp; Dyer, James, King, Knockaert; Nugent & Wood.
Watford: Almunia (c); Doyley, Ekstrand, Cassetti; Anya, Abdi, Hogg, Chalobah, Pudil; Vydra & Geijo.
Referee: Mr N Swarbrick.
TV: Sky Sports 1.