First Team 23/06/2016

Hoban | “I Can’t Wait To Play Football”

THE 2015/16 campaign was a difficult one for Tommie Hoban, as he reflected on injury struggles and plenty of time on the bike in the gym. 

The Hornets defender’s long-term injury problems, meant he was only named on the bench twice in the Premier League, and once more in the Capital One Cup. 

“Last season was a write off for me,” Hoban said, speaking to watfordfc.com. 

“The problems started at the end of the season before, I tried to get through pre-season with it and I managed to get through, but I broke down in September. I had to have the operation there and then, but that didn’t really solve the problem.

“I was struggling throughout the season, having injections trying to get me fit. I had another operation at the end of the season, which is why I’m in over the summer.”

Whilst most are away on holidays, Hoban is busy getting himself prepared for the new season, under-going plenty of work with the club’s physiotherapists. 

Although that work has become quite tedious for the Republic of Ireland defender, his spirits remain high as he continues to push to be ready for pre-season. 

“It’s been quite similar, mentally it can be boring, it’s a lot of strength work and core, and too much time on the bike!

“It’s all got to be done, I’m starting to feel stronger now, and hopefully I can get back on the pitch soon. 

“I’ve been strengthening myself up, I’m starting to feel stronger. I might not feel 100% in the near future, but if I can get through without the pain I was feeling before, hopefully throughout the season it can gradually disappear and that should happen eventually, I just have to keep positive.

“I’m probably going to have to be careful and manage myself through so I don’t have any setbacks, but yeah I can’t wait to get back out there and play football.”

With the Premier League fixtures being revealed last week, the 22-year-old is hopeful of making a good start to the campaign, in an opening set of fixtures which includes facing Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United. 

“Every game’s a massive game in the Premier League, they don’t get much bigger than the start we have to the season. 

“It’s going to be a tough opening six weeks, but you have to play them eventually and why not get at the big teams early before they get runs together.

“It’s all exciting though and we can’t wait to get started again now."

Under-23's 22/06/2016

Steven | “A Massive Achievement For Me”

CONNOR Stevens continued his rise through the ranks with the Hornets last week, as he signed his first professional deal with the club.

Speaking to watfordfc.com after putting pen to paper on a one-year deal, Stevens admitted how great a moment it was to sign for the club on professional terms. 

“It’s a massive achievement for me and my family,” the 18-year-old said. 

“They were delighted, my mum had a few tears, but they were happy for me.

“All the hard work I’ve put in has got the success to get a professional deal.

The 18-year-old played an important role in the Academy’s title-winning campaign last season, keeping a number of cleansheets along the way. 

Most of the team have been together a number of years now, with Stevens stating that as one of the reasons for the success that him and his teammates have enjoyed. 

“Being at one club, you can see the progression from Under-10s to now. 

“The back-four has done so well, we’ve been together since Under-15s when Charlie came in, and with Brandon as well, you can see the chemistry we have on the pitch which has showed this season.

“Me and Andrew have a great friendship, we’ve played Sunday league together since we were six, until now at Watford, we have a great bond on the right-side of the defence which helps our game.”

With the post-season break coming to an end in the next couple of weeks, attention will then be back on getting prepared for the 2016/17 campaign and joining up with the Under-21s. 

Although it will be a tough period, Stevens believes it is something that he will embrace as he targets another solid season. 

“We’ve been training with them during the last week or so,” the defender said, speaking shortly after the end of the 2015/16 season. 

“It’s good to get to know each-other a little more ahead of next season. 

“Pre-season is the biggest time to get ourselves a good start ahead of the year. There’ll be a lot of hard work, and a lot of running, but we are looking forward to it."