5:11pm Thursday 10th January 2013
By Adam Newson
Manuel Almunia and Almen Abdi are both fit for Watford’s match at Middlesbrough but three first team regulars are likely to miss the trip to the North East.
After their FA Cup tie against Manchester City, the Hornets return to Championship action and face one of their promotion rivals at the Riverside Stadium.
Gianfranco Zola confirmed Almunia and Abdi are available for selection but the Watford head coach believes Fitz Hall and Jonathan Hogg will be out until next week. Tommie Hoban is also struggling with an Achilles tendon injury.
Neuton may also miss the trip with Zola stating the defender would be assessed today (Friday).
Watford go into the clash seven points behind fourth-place Middlesbrough, with a game in hand, and Zola admits it’s imperative his side take points from the teams also pushing for promotion.
Zola said: "It's very important for many reasons. First of all, you want to beat the teams that are competing with you for a play-off position.
"Games, like the one on Saturday, will be massive for us to win. Also in terms of confidence, if you win, it's another big boost."
The Hornets boss added: "It's certainly going to be a tough game for us but we are confident and we have good form away from home. So we think we can do well there."
Middlesbrough have the second best home record in the Championship with ten victories from their 13 matches at the Riverside this season and have been beaten just twice at the Riverside.
Tony Mowbray could have Seb Hines, Emmanuel Ledesma, Andre Bikey and Geroge Friend available after injury but Chelsea loanee Josh McEachran may miss due to ankle knock.
Middlesbrough claimed a 2-1 victory at Vicarage Road earlier in the campaign but Mowbray believes the Hornets will be a "threat" in the promotion race.
He said: "I think at that time Watford were still finding out what they had. They'd signed a lot of players and were finding out the best way of playing that group. Now they seem to have solved most of those issues and are on a good run.
"They are in the top six and going to be a very definite threat. They score goals, are dangerous on the counter-attack and are very hard to breakdown when they get in front.
"They’ve won six games away from home; they’ve won at Brighton and put six past Leeds so this is a big, big test for us."
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