Team News: Newcastle United
By Kevin Affleck
Watford will travel to Newcastle with extra midfield reinforcements after Javi Gracia revealed Nathaniel Chalobah is fit enough to return to the fold.
The England international has not played since the international break because of a minor knee problem, but he has taken a full part in training this week and will travel to St James' Park as part of the squad.
“He is fit,” said the Head Coach. “He was disappointed after he came back from national because he felt a little pain and last week he wasn't available. This week he has trained with the team and is fit and ready to play. We have lots of good players and Chalobah is one of them.”
Troy Deeney, though, looks set to miss out for a third successive match because of a hamstring problem.
“We are at the same point, the same situation with Troy,” said Gracia. “Troy is training but out of the team at this moment. We'll see tomorrow [if he is fit], but it's difficult for him to be available for the next game.”
Sebastian Prödl is definitely out, still sidelined by the leg problem he picked up as a second-half substitute against Wolverhampton Wanderers and he joins Daryl Janmaat and Tom Cleverley in the treatment room.
“They are players in a different process and I don't know when they are going to come back,” said the Head Coach.
Gracia is a glass half-full coach and always prefers to focus on the players he does have at his disposal rather than the ones unavailable to him. The ones he is selecting right now are doing a damn fine job, winning the last two by scoring five unanswered goals. Gracia feels the team is benefitting from a minimal turnover of players in the summer and consistency in the coaching department. He feels it gave them a head start on some of their rivals.
“We have this season a good squad, a lot of players who were here last season as well,” he said. “It's important as at the beginning, other teams needed more time to get to know their players, to adapt to new systems and new clubs. For us it was better as we knew each other. This was better for us. I have spent much time together with my players and I trust them all.”
There is a real buzz at the training ground, a real sense of excitement at the way the team are playing and what they could achieve this season. The Hornets find themselves in seventh on the back of their best ever start to a top-flight season, but Gracia will not be allowing anyone to rest on their laurels or operate in the comfort zone. He wants more, much more, and is constantly reminding the players as to the virtues underpinning their fine start to the season.
“After two wins, all the players feel confidence to play next game,” he said. “We know if we play 100 per cent, we are able to win the next game but if we don't, Newcastle can beat you. It's about our mentality, day by day, to be focused on the next game. We need to be very demanding on the next game to have the chance to get points.”