Zola ready to lift Watford

Gianfranco Zola insists he will be able to lift his disappointed Watford players for their tilt at the play-offs.

Last Updated: 05/05/13 at 13:52 Post Comment

Gianfranco Zola: Ready to lift his players

Gianfranco Zola: Ready to lift his players

The Hornets fell agonisingly short of automatic promotion yesterday, going down to a late Leeds winner when a victory would have sent them into the Barclays Premier League at the expense of Hull.

Instead a semi-final meeting with sixth-placed Leicester awaits, with the first leg at the King Power Stadium on Thursday.

Watford have beaten Leicester twice this season, though, including a 2-1 away win last month.

But Hornets chief Zola said: "It will be tough. They are a team we have already faced twice and we know the quality they have. They know us, we know them. We'll go there and play our game.

"Before the game the players knew the possible scenarios. We will be ready to start again on Monday.

"The players were very tired at the end of the match, they had given everything. It's been tough but we will come back.

"The expectations have grown this season as we have grown in stature but you have to face that if you want to be a top team."

Zola is hoping goalkeeper Manuel Almunia will shake off the tight hamstring which kept him out of yesterday's match and had such a bearing on the outcome.

Jonathan Bond was drafted in to replace Almunia following the warm-up but his afternoon ended after 22 minutes when he was carried off with a broken nose.

That meant a professional debut for 19-year-old Jack Bonham, but the understandably nervous academy keeper was culpable as goals from Dominic Poleon and Ross McCormack, either side of Almen Abdi's fine curler, sealed Leeds' 2-1 win.

Defender Joel Ekstrand, whose poor clearance gifted Poleon his opener, tried to look at the positives.

He said: "If you had said play-offs at the start of the season we would have taken it.

"Now we have a second chance to take our place in the Premier League."

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

T

he thing is, footballers are role models, and children are influenced by them. I watched the Chelsea game with my 6 year old, and at school the next day she stamped on Emre Can.

megabrow (cufc)
Diego Costa: The Patron Saint Of S**thousery

Y

et again Barcelona try to convince the world that they only play the most virtuous of football. I've never seen a team so willing and able to dish out lumps but feel so self-righteous that no opposition player should ever have the audacity to tackle them.

charsmatcengma
Enrique hauls Neymar to safety

I

d love to see a United v Liverpool FA cup final. It would certainly fit the narrative. Obv I'd want the ending to be one of an O.G. and tears as he collects his runner-up medal.

GVMUFC
Gerrard Constantly Searching For That Final Hurrah

Footer 365

Premier League: Nigel Pearson insists his players must forget about their win against Manchester United

Nigel Pearson has been trying to make Leicester forget about their Manchester United win ever since they beat them 5-3.

Transfer news: Andre Schurrle nears Chelsea exit after agreeing personal terms with Wolfsburg

Chelsea forward Andre Schurrle is closing on a move back to Germany after agreeing to personal terms with Wolfsburg.

Premier League: Roberto Mancini could make a return to English football

Roberto Mancini has not ruled out a return to Manchester City in the future.

Mail Box

It's A Massive, Big, Brilliant Mailbox

And we left lots of Suarez/Costa mails unopened. What we do have is a video of some rotten Suarez tackles and views on the future of football, Spurs, Liverpool and...

But Biting Doesn't Hurt Like Stamping...

There are Liverpool fans arguing that Luis Suarez is nowhere near Diego Costa's sh*t-house league but we have plenty of love for the agitator too. Oh and Spurs...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company