First Team 23/07/2019

Gracia: “I Would Like Pereyra Back As Soon As Possible”

By Kevin Affleck

Javi Gracia is looking forward to welcoming Roberto Pereyra back into the fold after he was given additional time off to recover from an extended season.

Pereyra was part of the Argentina squad that reached the semi-final of the Copa America against Brazil on July 3. Although he only played 45 minutes of the 2-0 group-stage win over Paraguay, he was involved with his national team until July 6 so he has been given extra time to recharge the batteries before he joins up with his club teammates on Saturday.

“I would like him back as soon as possible,” joked Gracia. “Every time we talked about when he should come back, I said ‘one day before that’ as I want to have all my players as soon as possible. Roberto is very important for us.”

Nathaniel Chalobah played the second half of the game against Ajax but he didn’t play any part of the one against Bayer Leverkusen. 

“Chalobah has a little problem and we’ll see when we come back,” said the Head Coach. “I think he has to do some tests but I trust he will come back quickly.”

Isaac Success was another who featured against the Dutch but not against the Germans.

“He has a little problem with his hamstring, but it is better to stop one day than to regret a worse injury,” said Gracia. “I prefer to stop. I am sure in two or three days he will be ready.”

First Team 22/07/2019

Deeney: “I’m Happy – And I’ve Lost A Few Extra Calories!”

By Kevin Affleck

Troy Deeney was pleased to come out of quarantine and get some vital minutes under his belt against Bayer Leverkusen.

The captain spent nearly 48 hours in his room at the team hotel in Tyrol last week after being struck down by a virus and claimed he lost 4kg as a result. He was given the all clear to return to light training on Thursday, stepped things up on Friday with a punishing session while everyone else was in the gym and then got 45 minutes under his belt against the Germans.

“It was just nice not to be on the toilet for longer than 20 minutes,” he said. “It was just nice to be out there. Obviously I’m not going to be up there and at the same level as everybody else, but it was good to get the minutes in and not pick up an injury.”

The illness came as a mystery as everyone else in the travelling party was fighting fit. Deeney was in great form around the hotel on Monday night and trained like a thoroughbred on the first two days.

“We landed Sunday, trained and I felt good,” he said. “I trained Monday and felt really, really good. I was thinking, ‘Here we go, start of a good week’ and then I woke up at 3am and thought, ‘Hmm, I’ve got about three seconds here before this all turns a bit sour.’ And that was it. From 3am Tuesday morning to late Wednesday was the next time I saw anyone. I was in bed not feeling great. I did a little bit on Thursday but still didn’t feel great. I was back grafting on Friday and here we are. I’m a big old boy and I’m just getting on and doing what I need to do. I was never going to miss any more days or games than I needed to. They had to stop me playing against Ajax! The only good thing is the weight is down.”

Deeney was given 45 minutes against Leverkusen and worked smartly against international defenders Sven Bender and Aleksandar Dragović, doing enough to blow off the cobwebs after an illness-hit week, but also keeping plenty in the tank to hit this week hard and step things up against Queens Park Rangers and Real Sociedad.

“I’m happy – and I’ve lost a few extra calories! It was just a nice end to a good week,” he said. “The boys have put a shift in and really grafted. We’ve played two high-quality teams who are a week ahead of us so it's a good solid start for us.”

Watford captain Troy Deeney and club-record signing Andre Gray dish the dirt on their teammates while on tour in Austria.

Watch the full feature via the Hornets’ YouTube channel below.

Deeney turned 31 during the summer break but showed he has lost none of his mental sharpness. His touch play for a strapping striker and ability to link the play is such an undervalued part of his game and he demonstrated that in the opening goal for Will Hughes on the banks of Lake Zell in the Austrian Alps. He was sent down the right by a ball from Gerard Deulofeu and rather than take an ambitious shot at goal or send the ball hurriedly across the face of goal, the striker bided his time, waited for support to arrive and then picked out the run into the box of Hughes with a perfectly-timed and weighted pass.

“It’s normal forward play, really,” said Deeney. “It wasn’t anything weird and wonderful. There was no angle to get a shot off so I just waited for Hughesy to get in the box. I thought I’d hit it a bit too fast as he;s not the quickest, is he? But I gave it him, he got there, and it was a nice goal.”

Will Hughes scores from Deeney's pass

The Hornets have certainly not taken the easy route in selecting their pre-season fixture list. They picked Champions League semi-finalists Ajax as their opening opponents and followed that up two days later with a game against Champions League qualifiers Leverkusen. It’s an approach that will ensure they are not undercooked when the Premier League season kicks off and the win over Leverkusen, who finished fourth in the Bundesliga, will provide the group with a nice little shot of confidence.

“Of course,” said Deeney. “Winning is just a mentality. We did it at the start of last season and it just snowballed. It’s a good habit to get into. We are very aware of where we are at and we need to go again this week in training.”