First Team 4 weeks ago

Team News: Southampton

By Kevin Affleck

Javi Gracia will have an increased number of attacking options to choose from tomorrow night after Roberto Pereyra and Adalberto Peñaranda were declared fit to face Southampton.

Pereyra has missed the last two matches with the problem he picked up in the FA Cup semi-final win over Wolverhampton Wanderers while Peñaranda has been unavailable for selection for several weeks. Both the South Americans joined in full training today and they are in the mix to feature against the Saints.

“Both are training, both are available,” said Gracia. “One has made many more minutes than the other and he maybe needs more time to be in the best condition. Peñaranda has been out of the time for a long time, but the best news is that they are available.”

At the very least, the inclusion of one of them will allow Gracia to give his bench a more attacking look. On Saturday, due to injuries, he had to name a goalkeeper, four defenders and a defensive midfielder among his seven substitutes. 

The match-day 18 nearly picks itself right now as four players are injured and another, Troy Deeney, is suspended.

"We have out of the team José Holebas, Tom Cleverley, Domingos Quina and Sebastian Prödl,” said Gracia. “Prödl has a little problem in his knee. He trained yesterday but he didn’t today and we’ll see. It is nothing serious, but in this moment he is not available.

“Tom will be ready to train with the team in three or four days. I’m optimistic José will be ready to train with the team in one or two days. We’ll see.”

Gracia likes to use the full depth of his squad in hectic weeks such as this, but he isn’t afforded that luxury on Tuesday night. He could possibly make a change at centre-half, at right-back and bring Pereyra in for Ken Sema, but it will largely be the side which recorded a workmanlike win at Huddersfield on Saturday.

“I would like more time,” said Gracia. “If we have to be ready in three days, we will be ready and enjoy the moment with the same players. I could make some changes but if we have to do it with the same players, we will do it.”

First Team 4 weeks ago

Masina: “Seventh Place Is An Achievable Goal”

Adam Masina says it has been difficult for him to adjust to life at Watford, but that he is a better player and person for it

With José Holebas injured, the Moroccan-born former Italy U21 left-back has been playing more regularly in recent weeks, meaning Hornets fans are just starting to see what he is capable of.

It comes at a time of the season where everyone is beginning to realise what the Golden Boys might be capable of, too, with seventh place in the Premier League now a realistic target with four games remaining. There’s also the added caveat of a first FA Cup final in 35 years.

Masina is backing Watford to be successful in the final few weeks of the season.

“[Seventh place] is one of the achievable goals for the club,” said the full-back. “It’s going to be tough because there are a few clubs competing for it, but we are confident we can make it.

“It’s a good way to face the final in the best way possible so we will compete and prepare in this way.”

The match against Huddersfield was Masina’s 10th start in the Premier League, with six of those coming in the last eight games. The former Bologna defender has had to be patient waiting for his opportunity, with teammate Holebas is such good form.

“It’s been a difficult season for me coming from a different club and country,” Masina explained. “Especially when I played a lot before and this season I have been on the bench a lot.

“But I have improved a lot as a person and a player and I will keep working hard to increase my personal level like every player should do.”

The fact Masina – despite his rotational place in the side – is happy and motivated at this stage of the season is testament to the man management of Javi Gracia.

“He makes us train very well, and we always give 100 percent in every session,” said Masina. “I really like him as a manager.

“Every player is ready to make a contribution to the club and to the team, and we can all make a difference.”