First Team 18/10/2018

Team News: Wolverhampton Wanderers

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

By Kevin Affleck

Javi Gracia is ready to let Gerard Deulofeu off the leash after revealing the flying Spanish winger is fit enough to play from the start.

Deulofeu made his comeback off the bench against Bournemouth following a foot problem, but after getting another fortnight's conditioning under his belt during the international break, Gracia said he would have no qualms about starting the summer signing from Barcelona against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday.

“I think he is ready,” said Gracia. “He has been working hard in these last two weeks and he is in his best condition. I don't know if he is able to play 90 minutes at his best level, but I think he is in good condition to play.” 

Marc Navarro is also available for selection after missing the Bournemouth game, but Gracia has doubts over the fitness of a couple of other players and will make a call on them after training tomorrow. 

“We have some players with different problems, but we prefer to wait until tomorrow to decide if the players are available,” the Head Coach said. “Tom Cleverley and Daryl Janmaat are definitely out but the others we wait until tomorrow.”

One of the injury doubts is Nathaniel Chalobah, who felt a bit of discomfort in his knee after returning from international duty with England. His knee was put in a brace as a precautionary measure only.

“Yesterday he started to train with the team but after he felt a pain in his knee,” said Gracia, who added the issue was a “minor problem” and that “we'll see” if the midfielder will be involved against Wolves.

Two players definitely out are the suspended Christian Kabasele and José Holebas. Adam Masina, the summer signing from Bologna, is certain to make his first Premier League start in place of Holebas while Sebastian Prödl, Miguel Britos and Adrian Mariappa are jostling for the vacant spot alongside Craig Cathcart in the heart of defence. 

“The three players are the options to play with Craig,” said Gracia. “All of them have the possibility to play. We'll decide tomorrow, but all of them are available. Britos has trained this week and the week before as well and Prödl came yesterday [from international duty] so all of them are available.”

Ben Wilmot does not come into contention for the centre-half spot as Gracia revealed he sees the England Under-20 international as a midfielder.

Wilmot was one of 12 Watford players in international action over the past week, with Roberto Pereyra, Domingos Quina, Dodi Lukebakio and Cucho Hernández, who is on loan at SD Huesca, all on target. Gracia said he is “very proud” of the club's international contingent but was delighted to get them back yesterday.

“All the players have come back in a good condition,” he said. “All of them are training really well and preparing for the next game. They have had time to rest and are now training with a good level. 

“I expect the best of my players because they are showing me in all the training sessions the commitment and the ambition. I'm sure we are going to play a good game at Wolves.”

First Team 18/10/2018

Gracia On Contract Talks: “I'm Feeling The Love Here”

Head Coach Javi Gracia says he would be delighted to sign a new contract at Watford FC after revealing he has developed a deep connection with the Hornets.

The Spaniard, 48, signed an 18-month deal when he arrived in January, but the progression of the team under his watch, the very watchable style of play and the individual development of so many players has won him many admirers and means the club are in talks to extend his stay. 

“I feel very happy here,” said Gracia. “I feel the love by the supporters and by the club. In football, you never know what happens in the next two weeks, but I prefer to focus on the next game, to do my job, to do my best, so we'll see.”

The longest Gracia has coached somewhere was the two-season stint he did at Malaga, but he sees himself putting down roots at Vicarage Road. 

“I'll like to be here more time because I am very settled here,” he said. “I see my long-term future here and I can fulfil my ambitions at this club.

“We are talking and talks are going well.”