Vital Watford address to the situations of those out of contract this summer
In the second part of our series discussing the futures of certain members of the Hornet`s playing staff, Vital Watford turn our attentions to those players who are out of contract this summer, and there`s a few…
1. Manuel Almunia: With someone of Almunia`s age (36), it was always going to be a case of ‘wait-and-see` on a new deal. Well we`ve waited, and after his one-man heroics to keep us afloat against Crystal Palace, it`s evident that the experienced Spaniard is still at the top of his game.
Goalkeepers do of course go on longer than your average outfield player, but by the same token, the do spend their lives hurling themselves around, which must surely put a tremendous amount of strain on the joints.
Almunia, despite his hamstring niggles, has shown little, if any, sign of deterioration and one would therefore think that the offer of a new contract will be put to the former Arsenal man`s representatives.
Verdict: New one-year deal.
4. John Eustace: It`s been an infuriating season for the skipper, with much of the season spent on the sidelines after being withdrawn against Crystal Palace on the opening day of the season.
At 33, Eustace still has something to contribute in playing terms. Who else has his experience or leadership and who else can manage a game like him?
However, with the new breed of youthful, all-action midfielders now at the club – think Jonathan Hogg or Cristian Battocchio – will Eustace get a game?
When we interviewed him for The Vital Interview he was adamant that although he had his coaching badges, he was keen to make the most of the final years of his playing career. One gets the feeling that he won`t get much of a look-in on the playing front and this could finally be the end of one of the most topsy-turvy Watford careers in recent memory.
6. Fitz Hall: To coin an Americanism, Hall is a ‘five-tool` guy. He has good physical attributes (height & build), he is mobile & no slouch for his age (32), is good on the ball, is good off the ball (reading the game/awareness) and has great experience to boot.
What`s holding him back is his fitness. He arrived injured, and without trying to sound like an awful name-dropper, when we spoke to him for his Vital Interview, he was very clear on the fact that the medical care he would receive from the club was a big factor in his choosing Watford.
On his day, he`s probably our best centre-half; when he plays well, the defence play well and we usually get a result. Unfortunately, the issue lays in getting the guy on the field often enough for him to contribute.
For that reason alone, I fear he will be off this summer.
7. Mark Yeates: There can be no doubting that Yeates has thrived under Gianfranco Zola, deployed in his preferred position in the centre of midfield. That`s not to say he`s assumed the role of world-beater, but he has shown marked improvement from last term.
For me, Yeates is a good squad player. You don`t want to have to rely on him week-in-week-out, but coming in every few games, he is a good option, especially when he`s on-song – think of the assist at home to Birmingham back in August.
His future is two-fold: does Zola want him around enough to give him a new contract and does Yeates want to spend another year being a bit-part player. I suspect neither want what is inevitable if the Irishman remains.
10. Chris Iwelumo: As with a few of those who will feature further down this list, Watford have quite simply moved on without Chris Iwelumo.
The veteran Scot`s role in this season should never be forgotten – he got the campaign up-and-running with that scruffy extra-time winner over Wycombe Wanderers back in August – but since moving out on-loan, initially to Notts County then Oldham Athletic, it has been obvious that Big Chris` future lies elsewhere.
12. Lloyd Doyley: It appears that the Doyley story is set to roll on for at least one more season. The long-serving defender has taken to his role in the 3-5-2 and the change in the brand of football like a duck to water.
Absolutely imperious against Crystal Palace in the Play-off Final, the Jamaican international must be nailed-on to receive the offer of a new contract. Anything else would be an aberration.
Verdict: New one-year deal.
15. Stephen McGinn: The McGinn story is an unfortunate one. Excelling under Malky Mackay before serious injury in February 2011, he has failed to pull on the yellow shirt since.
A loan stint with Shrewsbury Town saw the Scot play regular football and the Salopian outfit are known admirers of the former St. Mirren man. It all fits.
19. Prince Buaben: Similar to McGinn, injury has plagued The Prince`s time in WD18. One substitute appearance at Hull City encapsulated the Ghanaian international`s second season with the Hornets and it looks likely to be his final year.
Undoubtedly a good ball-player, Watford are quite simply in the luxurious position of being able to bring in better nowadays, and thus the former Dundee man looks set for pastures new come June 30.
23. Piero Mingoia: Despite featuring during pre-season, Mingoia has failed to feature for Zola this season and after struggling to make much of an impression on-loan with Accrington Stanley and Boreham Wood, a drop into non-league beckons.
30. Jonathan Bond: The club`s No.1 in waiting, Bond will hopefully become the latest homegrown academy product to sign a long-term deal tying him to the club.
It`s something of a surprise that offer hasn`t been forthcoming yet, purely on the basis Zola has trusted him to be Almunia`s backup this term, but it must be in the offing after a good breakthrough campaign.
Verdict: New long-term deal.
32. Aaron Tumwa: The homegrown defender failed to make much impact on-loan at Wealdstone earlier in the campaign.
Nevertheless, as Tumwa heads into just his second season as a professional, his future is far from clear-cut. Another season on relatively low wages would do the club no harm, afterall, Tommie Hoban was far from a regular during his half a season with the Stones.
But, the new Watford don`t need to hang onto youngsters until they are quite certain they will amount to nothing (think Liam Henderson), and so Tumwa could well find himself without a club very shortly.
34. Jack Bonham: We all know about the horror-show against Leeds United on the final day of the campaign, and the rumour is that the 19 year-old had already been on trial at Brentford.
At the same age as Bond, Bonham is clearly well behind. His future lies elsewhere.
35. Stephen Hamilton-Forbes: Out on-loan at Havant & Waterlooville earlier in the campaign, the young homegrown midfielder has had a quiet season in terms of football & looks likely to follow in the footsteps of Tumwa.