First Team 11/02/2020

Thomas On Pussetto: “He Was Tireless”

By Kevin Affleck

Ignacio Pussetto really caught the eye of the senior Academy coaching staff with his attitude and penetrative runs down the right during the Under-23s' 2-2 draw with Ipswich Town.

The Argentine has played a part in every league game since he arrived from Udinese, but Head Coach Nigel Pearson was keen for the forward to build on the 34 minutes of action he has enjoyed so far and make sure he is up to speed should he be handed a first start, so he played 90 minutes against the Tractor Boys on Monday afternoon.

In front of the watching Hayden Mullins, the 24-year-old looked nice and bright down the right, could have scored early on, set up the first equaliser for João Pedro and worked his socks off throughout.

“He was tireless,” said Academy Manager Richard Thomas. “He's quite quick and good going forward but he's good out of possession as well. He tucked in and narrowed off on time, he was always alongside the central midfielder when we haven't got the ball and he knows the depths and distances he needs to be at when making regains facing forwards. He had a really good attitude and is a great lad to work with. I couldn't ask for much more from him.”

In addition to it being Pussetto's first 90 minutes for the club, the game at Ipswich's training ground also marked João Pedro's first goal in English football.

“It was a 'Welcome to England' type of day for him,” said Thomas. “The ball was swirling around, it was cold, the ball wasn't particularly clean into his feet and he'll need slightly better surfaces to do his best work on. He's not going to play in too many tougher environments than that in terms of conditions, but it was a good experience for him. He persisted, carried on working hard and did well. His attitude is excellent.”

There was also the sight of England international Tom Cleverley and Nigeria Under-23 powerhouse Tom Dele-Bashiru lining up together with former Manchester United youngster Callum Whelan in a tasty midfield three. 

"We played Tom a bit further forward as Callum is naturally a bit more deep lying,” said Thomas. “We felt Cleverley would get on it a bit deeper too and find his feet in his first game back. To put him in a higher line might not have been the best decision straight off, so we played Tom Dele higher. He was okay. We didn't really get the ball to him and he had to drop down and came into the same space as Callum and Tom Cleverley. So we swapped it after half an hour own, moved Cleverley forward and he found his way into the game. He was at it and that allowed Tom Dele to get on it more front-facing which he's more comfortable with and he got into little pockets for us. It might have been better to start that way in hindsight but we wanted to let Clevs find his feet, which he did well. He looked good.”

The Under-23s are back in action on Monday night at home to Queens Park Rangers, 7pm KO at Clarence Park.

First Team 11/02/2020

Awards: Foster Nominated For Goalkeeper Of The Year

Ben Foster has once again been nominated for Goalkeeper of the Year at the London Football Awards.

The Hornets shot-stopper won the award last year and this time he will go up against Arsenal's Bernd Leno, Brentford's David Raya, West Ham's Łukasz Fabiański and Crystal Palace's Vicente Guaita as he looks to retain the trophy.

The winners will be revealed at the event on Thursday March 5.

More details on the event can be found HERE.