WATFORD RECORDED back-to-back wins for the first time this season on Tuesday night as they beat Charlton Athletic 2-1 at The Valley. Gianfranco Zola`s side will now be looking to win on home soil for the first time since the first home league game of the season – a 2-0 win over Lee Clark`s Birmingham City – as they host Tony Mowbray`s Middlesbrough.
‘Boro currently sit 12th in the n.Power Championship table, a point and a place behind the Hornets with an away record which is every bit as unimpressive as the ‘Orns home record. Mowbray`s side have scored just four goals on the road this term, Watford have scored the same amount in four home clashes to this point.
Middlesbrough`s solitary victory on the road came in their last away trip – a 2-1 success at Blackburn Rovers – a result which ultimately spelt the end for hapless Rovers` boss, Steve Kean.
Last term it was ‘Boro`s home form which was the trouble as they posted an enviable away record falling narrowly short of a Play-Off place.
Once more it has been about cutting their cloth accordingly with Mowbray recruiting shrewdly this season as he prepares his squad for another Play-Off tilt. Former MK Dons and Bristol Rovers winger Mustapha Carayol arrived for an undisclosed fee to add more panache out wide whilst ‘Mogga` raided the free agency market to bring in Stuart Parnaby, Grant Leadbitter, Andre Amougou and Jonathan Woodgate.
Woodgate, 32, returns to the Riverside for a third spell having previously on the club`s books as a youngster before re-signing on-loan from Real Madrid in 2006 before making that loan move a permanent deal.
After just 46 appearances back on Teesside, the Nunthorpe-born defender moved to the capital to join Tottenham Hotspur. It was at White Hart Lane where Woodgate`s injury troubles struck again and the eight-cap England international struggled continually during his time with the north London outfit, despite earning rave reviews during his fleeting appearances.
Last term saw Woodgate pitch up at Stoke City on a free transfer before he elected to return home to the north east following the expiry of his one-year deal at the Britannia Stadium.
Another bosman addition was Emmanuel Jorge Ledesma, formerly of Queens Park Rangers and a particular favourite at Vicarage Road after a virtuoso display of appalling gamesmanship during the 2008-09 season visit to the Vic`.
The tricky Argentine returned to English football with Walsall in 2011 following further loan spells with Salernitana and Novara in Italy. Still on 24, Mowbray took the gamble on the inconsistent attacking midfielder-cum-winger, signing him on a free transfer this summer after 20 league appearance at the Bescot Stadium over two spells.
Mowbray added further creativity to his squad on August 20 when he signed Chelsea`s promising young midfielder Josh McEachran on-loan.
The England youth international arrives at the Riverside having made just 22 league appearances during his short career. Despite that the cultured midfielder technician is highly-thought of by a number of football luminaries including Andre Villas-Boas, Ray Wilkins and Brendan Rodgers.
A gifted playmaker with the ability to unlock defences, McEachran spent the second half of last term on-loan at Swansea City, linking up with former Blues` reserve team boss and ex-Hornet Rodgers once more.
Carayol (knee), young striker Curtis Main (knee) and Rhys Williams (ankle) are all out but Scott McDonald could be involved after being welcomed back into the fold following a dispute with Mowbray.
Striker Fernando Forestieri will miss out for the ‘Orns due to suspension, whilst Alex Geijo, Prince Buaben (hamstring) and John Eustace (back) will all miss out. Whether or not Fitz Hall and Troy Deeny can manage three games in a week remains to be seen.
Watford: Almunia (c); Hoban, Hall, Neuton; Cassetti, Chalobah, Hogg, Abdi, Pudil; Deeney & Vydra.
Middlesbrough: Steele; Hoyte, Amougou, Hines, Friend; McEachran, Leadbitter, Thomson, Bailey (c); Jutkiewicz & Williams.
Referee: Mr S Rushton.