Early team news for Watford visit

Friday 25 February 2022 11:00

Manchester United welcome Watford to Old Trafford on Saturday looking to solidify our fourth-place position in the Premier League with victory.

Ralf Rangnick’s Reds travelled back to Manchester early on Thursday morning after Anthony Elanga’s 80th-minute strike earned a 1-1 draw away at Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Champions League round of 16.

Focus turns back to the league for now, with Roy Hodgson’s Watford the visitors. The Hornets are embroiled in a tough battle for Premier League survival and suffered a 4-1 defeat to Crystal Palace on Wednesday night while United were out in Madrid.

Rangnick will prove supporters with an update on the team news situation in his Friday lunchtime (13:15 GMT) pre-match press conference, which will be broadcast on MUTV, ManUtd.com and on the United App.

On Wednesday, Scott McTominay missed our match against Atleti through illness. Rangnick explained that he and his coaches had “had a little bit of hope that he might be available.” That suggests that Scott should be back available for selection for Saturday’s game.

Striker Edinson Cavani has missed the last few games with a groin problem. He did not travel to Madrid because, as Ralf explained, “he didn’t train” and “has not been training fora couple of weeks.”

“As long as he doesn’t feel able to fully sprint, it doesn’t make sense to push him,” the boss explained.

Cavani’s fitness will no doubt be a subject of the press conference, although it seems unlikely that the Uruguayan will make it back for this match.

Other than that, Rangnick should be able to choose from a fully fit squad, and a set-up with several in-form players. Bruno Fernandes assistsed for a sixth consecutive Champions League match in Madrid, while 19-year-old Elanga made his mark with his excellent finish for the equaliser.

Last weekend, the Reds defeated Leeds United 4-2 and there were many stand-out performers. Diogo Dalot and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have both done well in the right-back position recently, and the same is true of Victor Lindelof and Raphael Varane in the middle of defence.

Highlights: Leeds v United Video

Highlights: Leeds v United

Watch all the goals and best moments from our madcap Premier League game at Elland Road...


Former-United striker Josh King, who has been leading the Watford line alongside Emmanuel Dennis, was brought off in their Wednesday match against Crystal Palace. He had suffered a knock to his back in training and was replaced by Cucho Hernandez after 51 minutes.

Manager Hodgson said he didn’t know the severity of King’s problem.

"He took a knock in our last training session, unfortunately, so this exacerbated the problem for him,” the former-England boss said.

"But it was the right time to make a change, I thought. Cucho Hernandez has been someone we've had an eye on in training. We of course, Ray [Lewington] and I, don't know him that well. We've not seen that much of him. We've only had a month to work with him in training and we wanted maybe to see what he could do. With Josh perhaps not being 100 per cent in form, it was a good decision, we thought, to take Josh off and give Cucho his chance.

"In the same way we took Tom Cleverley off who'd done well for us but it's the second game in three days. He worked very hard. We thought this was a chance for Edo Kayembe to show what he could do."

Joao Pedro and Juraj Kucka didn’t quite make the match against Palace but have been close to a return, Hodgson says, and seem set to be available for this match. Meanwhile, Cameroonian defender Nicolas Nkoulou is a long-term absentee due to a hamstring injury.

We’ll learn more on all of the above when Hodgson speaks to the press on Friday.