THE 2011/12 Carling Cup trail kicks off for the Hornets tomorrow night with a trip down to the South West to face League Two outfit, Bristol Rovers.
Last season`s poor showing in League One culminated in the Gashead`s relegation and Rovers will be looking to return to the third-tier at the first time of asking this season under new boss, Paul Buckle.
The former Torquay United boss has a growing reputation within the Football League having brought Torquay back into the 72 before master-minding their run into the Play-offs last season. Having been appointed boss at the Memorial Stadium, Buckle brought with him goalkeeper Scott Bevan and forward Chris Zebroski as well as his assistant, Shaun North.
Having taken the role of ‘party poopers` on day one with a 3-2 win over Wimbledon in south London, the Pirates managing to throw away a two-goal lead before winning the game late on.
On paper it`s a solid squad that should be capable of returning to League One at the first time of asking with shrewd summer signings such as Scott McGleish from Leyton Orient adding invaluable experience to the squad. The diminutive forward is still a handful at 37 and unsurprisingly found time to notch on his debut for the club at the weekend.
Striker partner Matt Harrold is another experienced goal-getter following spells with Wycombe, Shrewsbury and Southend, he moved south this summer and like McGleish, bagged on debut for his new employers.
At the back, Chris Lines and Gary Sawyer – a Championship-experienced full-back or centre back with Plymouth have new competition in the shape of former Brighton and Celtic centre-back-cum-centre-back. Appointed vice-captain on his arrival, the 28 year-old utility man brings a wealth of experience having sampled the SPL briefly with Celtic before returning to Brighton via loan spells with Colchester and Coventry.
There are certainly parallels to be drawn between the ‘Orns and the Gas; both with plenty of new signings on the pitch and in the dug-out and there could well be a few extra fresh faces at the Memorial Ground on Wednesday evening, with Sean Dyche likely to shuffle his pack and bring in some youngsters before Saturday`s first home game against Derby County.
Bristol Rovers: Bevan; Smith, Anthony, Virgo, Brown; Zebroski, Gill (c), Stanley, Anyinsah; McGleish and Harrold.
Watford:Gilmartin; Hodson, Mirfin, Bennett, Dickinson; Mingoia, Whichelow, Jenkins, Bryan; Massey and Deeney.