OPINION: Watford veteran needs to be replaced in January
Watford scraped through a 3-2 win over Coventry City at the weekend, boasting some poor individual performances. But defender Craig Cathcart was one who caught the eye of critics.
Having taken the lead at Vicarage Road through Andre Gray, Coventry would be 2-1 ahead within ten minutes. The Sky Blues couldn’t believe it, but to cap an end-to-end 20-minute period, William Troost-Ekong would find the equaliser with his first for the club.
It took a late Ismaila Sarr penalty to secure the win for Watford and it was one that took them into the automatic promotion spots, just in time for the two week international break. But it was a scrappy win. Defensively frail throughout and almost made to pay the price.
Vladimir Ivic started with three central defenders on Saturday, with two wing-backs. Troost-Ekong, Cathcart and Christian Kabasele made up those three and it was Cathcart who came under individual criticism on the day. Ben Foster also had a bad day but was quickly forgiven, for he’s having another fine season – Cathcart is proving a weak link though.
Watford haven’t kept a clean sheet in six Championship games now. Cathcart has so far featured in all 11 of the Hornet’s league fixtures but at 32, is it time the Northern Ireland international stepped aside, either for a new signing, or someone else? Someone younger?
Ben Wilmot could be a solution – he impressed for Swansea City in the Championship last season and has already featured eight times in the league. Troost-Ekong looks as though he’s cementing his place in the side and Kabasele is a regular too.
Ivic though could look to the transfer market in January. Depending on who they might yet sell after New Year could dictate where they would look to bolster in the transfer market. With 14 goals in the Championship as well, Ivic may prefer a striker or more attacking quality. But does his defence need more attention?
They’ve one of the more solid defensive records in the Championship. Whether it’s a promotion-worthy one is doubtful though and, sticking with Ivic’s three central defenders, Cathcart is proving to be the weak link. Still a player Watford may want to hang on to, someone who’s been a superb representative of the club as well, but perhaps it’s time we saw a fresher face in the heart of defence.