Ahead of Friday Night's clash with Reading Watford Head Coach Xisco Muñoz faced questions on player fitness, team morale and the pressures of the run-in on himself and his squad.
The weekly fitness update hit the Club Website at around midday, detailing fairly positive news surrounding those occupying the treatment room. Tom Dele-Bashiru, who suffered a serious knee injury the last time Watford faced Reading, is stepping up his return and is strengthening the knee. He is training outside and was involved in a video on Watford's Social Media with Philip Zinckernagel and Ismaila Sarr last week.
Club Captain Troy Deeney and Vice-Captain Tom Cleverley are also sidelined, but the latter faces a late fitness test and could be fit for Friday. Cleverley was due to return last week but suffered a minor setback in his recovery from a knee strain, whilst Deeney aims to return before the season's end.
With just three players out injured, Xisco Munoz has a plethora of options at his disposal for the rest of the season. This also means that some players may miss out on a spot in the matchday squad despite being match-fit and eager to be included. When asked by Vibe 107.6 about maintaining high morale, Munoz demanded that his players not become selfish.
"They have very good team spirit and it is important right now that the players don't be selfish. It's important for those who stay outside of the first 11 and the first 20. I want to give an example. The other day, Troy was out and came in his car to help his team from the outside. Sometimes when you have a very good squad it is important to also have a very good team; it is important that everyone tries to give their best in all of the situations, it doesn't matter if you stay in the first 11, of course everyone wants to play in the first 11, but it is impossible. Now is the moment to have one thing: Everyone in the same way, everyone thinking about the team, and only like this until the final. But it is important to have very good spirit because the team spirit is the difference that we need.
Joao Pedro managed a full ninety minutes despite suffering an ankle injury in the win over Sheffield Wednesday on Good Friday. Munoz insisted that the Brazilian is fully fit. "Joao felt a little pain but today was in training and it wasn't a big problem."