Bristol City hope to put Tuesday’s disappointing Carabao Cup exit behind them as they host Watford at Ashton Gate. The Hornets are the Robins’ last opposition before the three-week break for the World Cup in Qatar.
City suffered a 3-1 defeat to Lincoln City on Tuesday evening and trailed by three goals for most of the match before substitute Tommy Conway came off the bench to grab a consolation. Watford were also in action and claimed a 2-0 win over Reading at Vicarage Road.
Slaven Bilic’s men have now won four games in their last five and occupy one of the four play-off spots. A win on Saturday coupled with results going in their favour could put them within a point of an automatic promotion spot.
With City playing their game in hand last month, the table has begun to take a more even shape with only four teams on less than 20 matches. They dropped down to 20th and are just three points off of a relegation spot. A win against Watford could move them as high as 13th however, highlighting how close the Championship is.
Ahead of what will be City’s 21st match of the season, two games shy of the half-way stage of the campaign, they have some selection issues to contend with, as do Watford. Here’s the latest on the injury and suspension news ahead of Saturday’s clash.
Bristol City injury news
George Tanner serves the final game of his three-match suspension after his red card against Sheffield United. Tanner was dismissed for a challenge on James McAtee and it was not appealed. The former Manchester United defender played in an Under-21’s match this week but isn’t able to play against Watford.
“Not really no,” was the response Nigel Pearson gave when asked if any injured players would be in contention from injury. “It’s something that I suppose in that regard, the break will give us an opportunity to get people back.”
Pearson’s words are likely to rule out both Kal Naismith and Tomas Kalas until their next match which is on December 10, against Rotherham United. Naismith has been out since the start of October with a calf injury. No new time scale has been given yet with the former Luton Town defender unable to deal with the load which is desired to play in a competitive match.
Fellow centre-back Tomas Kalas has been absent for the last five matches. Kalas was absent for seven-months and made two cameo appearances against Millwall and West Brom, but has been ruled out of action since. The 29-year-old resumed training recently but is unlikely to be considered for the Watford match.Rob Atkinson recovered from a bout of illness and started against Lincoln on Tuesday which at least adds some slight depth to the centre-back area.
Ayman Benarous and Kane Wilson are the long-term absentees. Benarous is closer to a return than Wilson with the former Forest Green wing-back expected to be out until the New Year.
Watford team news
Former Man Utd midfielder Tom Cleverley is definitely absent for the match. He has an Achilles injury that has him out until at least February. Moroccan midfielder Imran Louza will also miss the game. He recently underwent an operation for an ankle injury which will rule him out of the World Cup.
Watford are hoping that the three-week break will allow time for players to recover from injury. Albanian forward Rey Manaj and right-back Jeremy Ngakia are expected to return next month.
Ismaila Sarr will play against Bristol City with Slaven Bilic stating that the forward will not be afforded a break. The Senegal forward is the Hornets’ sole World Cup representative but will not receive special treatment and will instead be expected to play a part against the Robins.
Samuel Kalu recently made his return against Reading after missing a majority of the season through injury. An ankle injury had him sidelined up until Tuesday and he almost made the desired impact by nearly assisting Keinan Davis for a goal. Francisco Sierralta and Hassane Kamara have both served their one-game suspensions and should be in contention.