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Former Arsenal keeper leaves promotion hopefuls begging for an emergency

Manuel Almunia limped out the warm-up for Watford's game with Leeds United today. The chain of events that followed may cost The Hornets promotion.

Watford failed to capitalise on Hull City’s draw at home to Championship winners Cardiff City after a 2-1 defeat to Leeds United at Vicarage Road. That result has left them needing to fight via the play-offs to have any hope of playing Premier League football next season.

With Troy Deeney sent off Watford were caught on the break with the final goal a lobbed effort from Ross McCormack.

However both goals were horror moments for young stopper Jack Bonham. He came rushing out and collided with his own player leaving an open goal for opponent Dominic Poleon to tap-in for 1-0.

Then his lack of lift for the chip attempt by the Scotland international saw all three points and promotion slide away from them in the final minutes of a match delayed due to a severe neck injury suffered by starting goalkeeper Jonathan Bond. He was taken straight to hospital after suffering what looked like a horrific neck injury mid-way through the first-half.

His place in the starting line-up was due only to usual first-choice Manuel Almunia limping out the warm-up with a hamstring problem.

Events left the unknown teenager in the ominous position of having to enter the fray for his first professional appearance in perhaps one of the most crucial games he will ever play and the pressure proved too much.

To highlight just how unknown the lad is when I first heard he was coming on I quickly looked for his Wikipedia page; it did not exist. Such was the instant infamy of his unfortunately hapless display that is no longer an indignity that befalls him.

But Almunia’s injury problem leaves Watford down a proverbial creek.

By the sounds of Zola’s post-match interview he is hoping that Bond recovers in time for the play-offs this week; which may suggest Almunia has been ruled out:

"Bond has a broken nose. He has been taken to the hospital for an assessment. If it's only a broken nose he should be OK. Now you can play with protection.’’

If test results on Bond however reveal anything more sinister than Watford face a real trick trying to sign an emergency keeper on loan.

The club have barely pleased the Football League with their flagrant flaunting of the loose restrictions on loan players already this season and are also currently under a transfer embargo from the previous ownership.

That means the hope of bringing in the Udinese-Granada part-owned Polish youngster Wojciech Pawlowski seem slender; despite the rules on emergency goalkeepers should a team be left with just one capable custodian.

Therefore the likelihood is that Jack Bonham will again have to stand guard against Leicester City in the play-offs if Almunia and Bond do not recover in time.

Watford fans may have to find it in their hearts to forgive and forget the errors today and hope he puts in a far more polished performance as early as Thursday.

How much do Watford need Manuel Almunia to be fit?

image: © bbmexplorer

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