Newcastle vs Watford preview: Abdoulaye Doucoure still missing for Hornets
Paul Dummett, Jonjo Shelvey, Mohamed Diame and Ki Sung-Yueng all absent for Newcastle
Last Updated: 26/01/19 12:05am
Abdoulaye Doucoure will miss Watford's FA Cup trip to St James' Park to face Newcastle on Saturday.
Doucoure's future has been a constant thread of transfer speculation this month with both Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal said to be interested in the midfielder.
The Frenchman, who may also be absent for Watford's Premier League clash with Tottenham on Wednesday, was a late withdrawal from the stalemate against Burnley last weekend following a reported knee problem, and he will not feature in the fourth-round tie.
"Last week when I spoke with the medical staff, they said that maybe in one or two days Doucoure could be available, but now we need to wait and give him more time," said Javi Gracia, the Watford manager.
"In the next two or three days he will be out of the team.
"He has a little problem with his right knee and needs more time to recover. I think he will be available in one week, but we will see."
Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez has promised to be as bold as he dares as he targets a place in the FA Cup fifth round and Premier League survival.
The Magpies have endured a miserable record in the domestic cups under owner Mike Ashley, having never made it past the fourth round since the year before he took the club over.
For a club which has won the FA Cup on six occasions, but not since 1955, it is a damning record, but one Benitez is keen to address when Watford head for St James' Park on Saturday three days before reigning champions Manchester City roll into town for a league fixture.
Asked about balancing the competing demands, the Spaniard said: "It's so important. With all the money involved in the Premier League, everyone knows that if you want to grow, if you want to be better, you have to guarantee this money for the next year.
"To stay in the Premier League is really, really important, but at this stage, if we can go through, we will try to do it. We're playing at home. Will it be the strongest team in terms of match-fitness? Maybe not. Will it be a team, in my opinion, that can go through or can win the game? Yes, I think so."
Benitez will once again be without a quartet of key players against Watford.
Full-back Paul Dummett (hamstring) and midfielders Jonjo Shelvey (thigh) and Mohamed Diame (hip) are improving, but are not yet ready to return to the squad, while Ki Sung-yueng is facing a further two weeks on the sidelines with the hamstring injury he suffered on Asian Cup duty with South Korea.
However, central defender Federico Fernandez is available after illness, as is winger Kenedy following a toe injury, and both are likely to be included in the squad.
Along with Doucoure, Kiko Femenia (hamstring) is also absent for Watford, but Will Hughes and Craig Cathcart are available again.
- Newcastle United are unbeaten in both meetings with Watford during the 2018-19 season (W1 D1) - they had lost five in a row against the Hornets in all competitions prior to this season, including a 0-1 defeat in the FA Cup third round in 2015-16.
- The last two FA Cup meetings between Newcastle and Watford at St. James' Park have ended goalless - both during the 1988-89 campaign (third round and a second replay at the same stage).
- Watford have reached the FA Cup fifth round in just one of their last nine seasons, doing so in 2015-16 with a 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest in the fourth round.
- Newcastle have been eliminated from eight of their last nine FA Cup ties with Premier League opposition and haven't reached the FA Cup fifth round since the 2005-06 season.
- Watford striker Troy Deeney has five goals and assisted four in his last 11 FA Cup appearances, scoring in the Hornets' third round victory over Woking.
In my opinion Newcastle should write off their next game against Manchester City and go all out in this one. The loyal Newcastle fans know their football - they will be thinking the same. This is a great opportunity for a cup run. If they get Doncaster in the next round then they are in the quarter-finals.
Maybe Rafa Benitez should start thinking of what the fans want? I'm not sure he will see it that way. Watford are a tough team - they played well at St James' earlier this season. I will go away win.
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-2 (9/1 with Sky Bet)