ANDREW TAYLOR knows more than anyone just how tough the challenge will be for his Middlesbrough side, as they look for a vital three points against Watford this weekend.
The Hartlepool-born full-back (pictured) enjoyed a successful six-month loan deal with the Hornets at the beginning of the season and he couldn’t speak highly enough about both the football club and their manager Malky Mackay.
He said: “They are a really talented side who will come here and cause us problems. I think they’ve got just the right blend of youth and experience and the manager has instilled a winning mentality there so it is a big test for us.”
Taylor, who has recently been deployed on the left side of a tight midfield quartet, labelled striker Danny Graham as Boro’s biggest threat at the Riverside this Saturday.
Graham is the Championship’s leading goalscorer with 21 goals so far this season and has notched in all of Watford’s last five games – which have seen them overcome a mini-blip and put their play-off push back on track with an unbeaten run.
The fact that the striker in question got his break in the game with Boro, merely adds spice to the occassion. The former Carlisle talisman didn’t really get the chance at Boro, breaking into the first team at the age of 19, when he was finding himself up against international defenders in the Premiership.
Since departing, Graham has made a name for himself in football as a real goal-getter and this season is no different. The Gateshead-born striker scored twice for Watford in their 3-1 home win against Boro in September and Taylor has labelled him as his side’s biggest threat.
He said: “Danny is well known in Middlesbrough and he is a fantastic player. He’s physical, holds the ball up well, good in the air and has a real eye for goal. We will have to keep him quiet to stand a chance of getting something from the game.
“Saying that, Watford are certainly not a one-man band. Their other striker, Marvin Sordell, is also in double figures this season so he’ll be a danger. They also have Will Buckley on the right wing, and he will also cause us problems.”
If Boro are to secure maximum points, they will have to do it without top goalscorer Leroy Lita. The striker could miss the rest of the season after tearing his hamstring in last weekend’s goalless draw at Portsmouth.
The unwelcome injury, particularly with Kris Boyd on loan at Nottingham Forest, leaves Mowbray short of attacking options – although it does give Marvin Emnes a rare chance to shine from the start. The Dutchman was impressive whilst on loan at Swansea earlier in the season but has since failed to recapture that form.
Stephen McManus is expected to be on the bench, but could yet start after completing 75 minutes in Wednesday night’s 2-0 reserve team defeat against Scunthorpe at Glanford Park.
Andrew Davies is getting closer to a return to action, but the Watford game comes to soon for the on-loan defender.