First Team 09/11/2018

Team News: Southampton

Watch Javi Gracia's pre-match press conference above, or read on below.

By Kevin Affleck

Javi Gracia confirmed Troy Deeney is back training and he should be in the squad for the game against Southampton.

The captain has missed the last three games with a hamstring problem he admitted in his programme notes for the Huddersfield game had plagued him against Bournemouth.

His return means Gracia has Isaac Success, Gerard Deulofeu, Andre Gray, Stefano Okaka and Deeney vying for the two spots in attack.

“Troy and Andre were important in the first games, playing well, scoring goals,” said the Head Coach. “In this moment we are stronger with his [Deeney’s] comeback. He’s another option.”

Javi Gracia also said it was “very, very special” to have Tom Cleverley return to training this week.

Cleverley is not being considered for the game against Southampton because he has been out since January with a combination of hamstring and Achilles problems and needs more time, but Gracia feels the sight of the popular midfielder working with the main group adds to the feel-good factor at the training ground.

“Tom Cleverley is not fit, but this week he has started to train with the team, doing something with the team,” said the Head Coach. “I think this is very good news for us. To see him on the pitch at the same time with rest of the players is something very, very special.”

The return of Deeney and Cleverley leaves only Daryl Janmaat (knee) and Sebastian Prödl (hamstring) in the treatment room. When Gracia first arrived, in January, he had injury doubts over 12 players.

“The rest of the players are available,” said Gracia. “I am happy because I like all my players to be fit and healthy. I will then decide what is the best option for the next game. Now I can make the best choice for the next game with more options than other games.”

Gracia has to make at least one change from the game against Newcastle because Étienne Capoue is suspended. Nathaniel Chalobah appears to be the next cab off the rank, but the Head Coach was mightily impressed with how Ben Wilmot and Domingos Quina showed up in the Carabao Cup games, particularly the one against Tottenham.

“Chalobah is one of our options,” said Gracia. “We have other players, like, Ben Wilmot and Domingos Quina. Chalobah is one player who plays with national team in the last games. It’s a good options for us and everybody knows he is a very good player. We see what happens in the next game.”

Capoue will be sorely missed because he has arguably been Watford’s player of the season so far. Nobody has made more interceptions in Europe than the Frenchman with the telescopic legs. But you will not find Gracia bemoaning the loss of his midfield general. He is instead excited by the opportunity it presents for someone else.

“I prefer not to miss players I don’t have,” he said. “I have very good payers waiting for their chance and in this game we will see other players. I am sure all of them will play very, very well.”

Ladies 08/11/2018

Ladies: Williams Appointed General Manager

Watford Football Club are delighted to announce that Grace Williams has been appointed the new General Manager of Watford FC Ladies.

A former Watford Academy and Centre of Excellence player, Grace is more than familiar with the Golden Girls and brings a wealth of footballing knowledge to the role. And, having also managed a fitness club, she has a rounded background that enables her to take on every challenge thrown at her and the Golden Girls moving forward. 

The first match under her stewardship will be this Sunday - Remembrance Day - as Head Coach Armand Kavaja’s side line up in a local derby against MK Dons Ladies at Kings Langley FC.

Williams, though, is already looking further forward to the challenges facing the Ladies in the short, mid, and long-term, and is relishing the prospect of taking the Golden Girls forward.

“It’s a dream [of mine], working for Watford FC, since being part of the academy as a young girl,” said Williams.

“Watford is an ambitious club and I relate to and appreciate the core values of the club, I think Watford FC Ladies are moving in the right direction and I want to be part of the growth and development of the club as well as Women’s football as a whole.”

That drive to push Women’s football - and Watford FC Ladies in particular - to its limit lie at the heart of Williams’ motivations.

“My goals are solely to promote and continue to represent to a high standard, Watford FC Ladies,” said the General Manager. 

“This can consist of league promotion, increasing our match day attendances, working with the local community and sponsors. 

“This isn’t just a job for me, football is my passion and I hope to show my commitment to the role with professionalism and dedication to what I am doing and going that extra mile for the club to achieve these goals.” 

Formerly an academy coach in the United States, Williams managed and coached her own teams in a town called Madison in Connecticut, working with boys and girls from Under-12 to Under-14 levels.

“It was amazing working in Women’s football in the USA,” said the former centre of excellence player. “Mainly because of the drive and passion for the majority of young girls to play football as their main sport.

“There is a clear importance to be involved and develop in America, which is something that is becoming apparent over here. I hope to bring over the importance of women’s football from youth to elite development and promote women’s football, especially, at Watford FC Ladies.”

Returning home, and in particular to a club that she’s more than familiar with, Williams said she was pleased to come full circle and help develop the club moving forward.

“It feels great to come back to what feels like my home club,” said Williams. “Growing up it was all Watford FC, so I feel immensely proud to now wear that badge and be involved in the Ladies’ club, and hopefully inspire and share my passion to others who want to be part of Watford FC Ladies.”

But first, before work can begin on the long-term ambitions of the club, a first taste of action at Kings Langley awaits, as third-placed Watford take on MK Dons on Sunday. Williams is looking forward to getting to know the supporters.

“Firstly, [I just want to say] thank you for your continuous support that you have shown the Ladies team,” said the General Manager. “I look forward to meeting you all at our next home game, please come and introduce yourself when you can! 

“At the end of the day, we are all here for Watford FC Ladies so I look forward to speaking to you all – come on you 'Orns!”

Watford FC Ladies play MK Dons Ladies this Sunday at Kings Langley FC, 3pm KO.