Watford v Cardiff. Match preview

25 December 2011 08:56
From press sources.

Watford are likely to welcome back Carl Dickinson and Chris Iwelumo for their lunchtime Boxing Day encounter at home to Cardiff, a clash which sees the return of former manager Malky Mackay.

The pair missed last weekend's goalless draw at Blackpool due to illness, with fit-again Lloyd Doyley replacing full-back Dickinson in the starting XI and Joe Garner coming in for striker Iwelumo on the bench.

Doyley's appearances was his first in almost two months having made a full recovery from a thigh injury.

Otherwise, boss Sean Dyche is not expected to have any new injury or suspension concerns as he prepares to come up against Mackay for the first time since the Scot's summer departure from Vicarage Road to the Welsh capital.

Dyche served under Mackay as assistant boss before his promotion into the Watford hot-seat and, as apprentice meets master, he will be hoping his in-form side stretch their unbeaten run to seven matches against the Bluebirds.

Long-term absentees Martin Taylor (dislocated collarbone) and Stephen McGinn (knee) continue to make good progress.

Cardiff have been given a boost ahead of their trip with news midfielders Don Cowie and Joe Ralls could be fit.

Ralls was substituted 32 minutes into the Bluebirds' 3-2 home defeat to Middlesbrough last weekend with a knee injury and was first thought to be unlikely to recover in time for the visit to Vicarage Road.

However, the youngster has had a scan on the problem area, which revealed no major damage, and Ralls returned to light training on Thursday.

Cowie was also a victim of the loss to Boro, hobbling off with a calf strain in the 68th minute. But he too is hopeful of a return on Monday, while Peter Whittingham is expected to shrug off a knee complaint in time for the match.

Cardiff will be without Stephen McPhail, however, who remains sidelined with a knee injury.