Bilić On João Pedro Injury: “He’s Going To Be Out For A While”

By: Watford FC Staff

Head Coach Slaven Bilić provided an injury update following João Pedro’s first-half withdrawal against Millwall on Boxing Day, revealing that the Brazilian starlet is expected to be out of action for six to eight weeks.

The 21-year-old forward - who has scored eight goals in 20 Sky Bet Championship appearances so far in 2022/23 - went down under a challenge from Lions midfielder George Saville in the festive fixture, and despite attempting to carry on was eventually replaced by Yáser Asprilla.

Three days on Bilić explained that João Pedro has suffered damage to the ligaments in his ankle, and that the Hornets will have to continue their push for promotion into the New Year without their No.10 in the short term.

“It’s ligament damage,” said Bilić, ahead of the Golden Boys’ trip to Swansea City on Friday (December 30, 7.45pm KO). “None of the ligaments are completely ruptured, but they all have damage, and he’s going to be out for a while - about six to eight weeks.

“It’s a big blow. I don’t have to tell anybody what João means to this team - he’s exceptional, he’s someone who you can build a team around, and we will miss him.

“But it is what it is - there’s no crying, and there are many games left. We know we need to stay in contention until João and the rest of the injured players are back and available.”

The absence of João Pedro compounds an already stark injury situation within the Hornets’ ranks, with the lack of bodies available in the midfield area of particular concern to Bilić.

While the tally of injured first-team players now stands at eight - with Hamza Choudhury, Imrân Louza, Edo Kayembe, Dan Gosling, Tom Cleverley, Kortney Hause and Rey Manaj all joined by João Pedro on the sidelines - former Croatia boss Bilić insists there is some light appearing at the end of the tunnel, and he is confident that the attitude and dedication of his players will see them battle through the challenge of the coming weeks.

He added: “The only area we are strong in terms of quantity and quality now is in defence, which is where we were struggling with injuries when I arrived at the club!

“In midfield we currently have a situation where we might have to play people somewhat out of position. A few of them - like Louza and Cleverley - we expect to be back in a month or so, but Kayembe and Choudhury should be sooner than that, which is good news.

“The light is there, but for now we have to survive and pick up the points we need, which isn’t easy. What I like is the attitude of the guys - which we saw with Choudhury and João Pedro attempting to play on when they were injured.

“It’s a very challenging time, but we’re looking forward to trying to do something when the situation is not ideal. It’s great to attack that challenge, and we’ll keep fighting as hard as we can.”

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