Middlesbrough V Watford at The Riverside Stadium : Match Preview

11 January 2013 01:31
Middlesbrough V Watford - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Big boost for Boro

Middlesbrough have been boosted by the return to training of five key players ahead of the visit of Watford.

Defenders Andre Bikey, Seb Hines and George Friend (all hamstring) and midfielders Faris Haroun (hamstring) and Emmanuel Ledesma (knee) have all joined in with their team-mates again and will be assessed ahead of Saturday.

Boro boss Tony Mowbray told the club's official website: "Some have a better chance than others, but we'll be in a better position than we were last weekend.

"The injuries we've had were mainly strains and pulls and were only ever going to be 10 days or two weeks. The ones who don't make this game should be available for the next one."

Andy Halliday had surgery on a broken nose in midweek and although he was expected to be fit for the weekend, he finished training early on Thursday and could be a doubt.

Mowbray added: "It's just one of those delicate ones but it's not anything that stops him running and jumping."

England Under-21 midfielder Josh McEachran is making good progress in his recovery from an ankle problem but may not be ready to start a game yet.

Marvin Emnes (hamstring) is still not ready to return, but long-term absentees Julio Arca (toe), Muzzy Carayol (knee) and Curtis Main (knee) all are getting close to fitness.

Watford welcome back Manuel Almunia and Almen Abdi.

Goalkeeper Almunia missed the FA Cup defeat at Manchester City due to a slight hamstring problem picked up on New Year's Day against Charlton while Abdi suffered a pelvic injury in the same game.

Both have trained and are expected to return to Gianfranco Zola's starting XI to face Boro.

But the game is likely to come too soon for Jonathan Hogg and Fitz Hall. Midfielder Hogg is hoping to return from a hamstring problem to face his hometown club but next weekend's clash with Huddersfield is a more realistic target.

Defender Hall is also struggling with a hamstring injury and is expected to be sidelined for a third consecutive game.

Young defenders Tommy Hoban (Achilles) and Neuton (training knock) are both doubts.

Source: PA