Can Watford benefit from out-of-favour Ikechi Anya's showing against England?

Scotland Football

Ikechi Anya will be looking to have an impact for Scotland against England on Tuesday, and Watford will be keen to benefit.

A fan favourite at Vicarage Road, Anya rose to international prominence with his performance in Scotland’s 2-1 defeat to Germany in September, netting the equalising goal agains the reigning World Champions.

Since making his debut for his birth nation, 26-year-old Anya has made 10 appearances, with his goal against Germany the second of his career. His rise to fame has progressed at an incredible rate since his transfer to Championship side Watford, with the former non-league man - who also spent a spell with the Glenn Hoddle Academy in Spain - becoming a key part of the Hornets side which reached the Championship Play-Off Final in 2013.

Under Gianfranco Zola, Anya progressed from a pacy winger into an all-round wing-back, and is considered the best success of Zola’s time in charge in Hertfordshire. Being utilised in the counter-attacking 3-5-2 system, Anya was often used as an attacking outlet, and he scored a memorable goal last season, picking the ball up on the edge of his box and sprinting the full-length of the pitch in less than 10 seconds to round off a 5-1 victory at Barnsley.

However, the Scot has struggled since Zola’s departure, with a host of managers reverting to a four-at-the-back system in which Anya cannot fit. He is not defensive enough to work as a full-back, and, having been left out of the starting XI on numerous occasions, his drop in confidence has seemingly limited his ability in the final third - making him an ineffective winger.

Despite his form in Hertfordshire, he has become a key part of the Scotland side performing so well under Gordon Strachan, and it was the manager who admitted that Anya should be playing at a higher level following his performance against Germany. SPL side Celtic were said to be leading the race for his signature in September, whilst a number of Premier League sides are reportedly also interested, and Watford could be willing to allow their out-of-favour winger leave.

With Anya set to take centre-stage of Tuesday, as Scotland face England, Watford could be looking to benefit from the increased exposure of their on-the-market 26-year-old. A good performance against a struggling England side will further prove his ability on the international stage, and it could be the performance which pushes interest in him to formal bids. Performing well on the international stage will likely increase the fee Anya will command, and the Hornets could well benefit from the man who cannot get into their first-team.

Whilst Watford fans would be sad to see Anya leave in January, there is no denying that he has been off-form for over a year now, and a move away from Vicarage Road could work wonders for the both the club and the player.

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