Watford will be without Abdoulaye Doucoure for the Premier League trip to Sheffield United on Boxing Day.
Doucoure is suspended for the match at Bramall Lane after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season during the 2-0 win over Manchester United.
This is a blow for new head coach Nigel Pearson, as the midfielder is the only outfield player to have started every league game this term.
“He can certainly stretch teams. He’s got a really good capacity to go box to box,” Pearson said in his pre-match press conference.
“But I don’t really overthink situations like this. When players aren’t available I don’t waste energy thinking about what we’re going to miss.”
How much will Watford miss Doucoure for Sheffield United trip?
Doucoure has been a key player for the Hornets since breaking into their first team in 2016. The 26-year-old has since played 122 times for them, scoring 14 goals. Doucoure’s best scoring campaign came in 2017/18 when he top scored for the club with seven strikes.
This has lead to plenty of interest in the Frenchman. As the Telegraph reports, Everton had a £32m offer for Doucoure rejected over the summer.
There is no doubt that Watford will miss the physical presence of their midfield ace when they visit South Yorkshire. Doucoure has been a big part of their recent revival under Pearson.
After drawing his first game in charge at home to Crystal Palace, the Hornets gave a fine display at Anfield despite losing 2-0 to leaders Liverpool. They then won only their second league game of 2019/20 at the weekend when they beat Man United at Vicarage Road.
Pearson does have options to replace Doucoure – depending on how he sets up against the Blades. If he wants to be more defensively minded then Nathanial Chalobah represents a good choice. If he wants to be more attacking – which is where Doucoure has been deployed in recent games – then Roberto Pereyra or Domingos Quina could come in.