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Xisco Munoz impressed by Danny Rose as left-back makes Watford debut in cup win

Stevenage v Watford – Pre-Season Friendly – Lamex Stadium
(Image credit: Tim Goode)

Watford manager Xisco Munoz has praised Danny Rose for his work ethic after the left-back made his debut in Tuesday’s 1-0 Carabao Cup win over Crystal Palace.

The 31-year-old made his first competitive appearance in more than 13 months, having been frozen out of the first-team picture during his final season at Tottenham by Jose Mourinho.

Rose left Spurs on a free this summer, 14 years after joining the north London club, and showed plenty of energy and commitment throughout the 90 minutes at Vicarage Road.

With Watford visiting his old club on Sunday, the former England international will be desperate to get the nod, and his boss acknowledged starting places were up for grabs.

Xisco said: “We know what is the level of Danny. I say before the game about we know he was working very hard in pre-season, very hard.

“This is the way and it is important. I tell you it is important all the players go outside their comfort zone, try to give their best and make the first XI not safe.

“It is important we have 22 to 23 players ready to play and trying to give their best in all the situations to play the next games. This is very good for me and also very good for the team.”

Adam Masina played left-back in Watford’s first two matches, but conceded a penalty in the victory over Aston Villa and made little impression during last weekend’s loss at Brighton.

It opens the door for an emotional return to N17 for Rose, who is fondly remembered by the Spurs faithful after making more than 200 appearances for the club and was widely regarded as the best left-back in the country before a knee injury in 2017 and subsequent mental health issues saw him lose his way.

Ashley Fletcher struck the only goal of the game against Palace, when Hornets captain Troy Deeney was a notable absentee from the squad.

Xisco attempted to play down the skipper’s situation, saying: “We didn’t see a lot of players and we have another important game on Sunday.

“Also like (Christian) Kabasele, Masina, (Ismaila) Sarr, Deeney, I think now is the focus for the players who play (against Palace) because they play very hard and they give a very good performance.

“I think it was a brilliant performance and we have a very important game on Sunday so it is important we work very hard for that too.”

Tuesday proved a frustrating evening for Patrick Vieira and his side, who have yet to win in three games since replacing Roy Hodgson this summer.

Jean-Philippe Mateta had numerous chances in the first half while James Tomkins and Christian Benteke also went close.

Stand-in captain Joel Ward called for them to be more ruthless, telling the club’s website: “I think it was a game that was there for us to go and win.

“It’s gutting and it’s disappointing to walk away and walk off this pitch without a win.

“We need to have that nasty streak about us so that when we are on top, we are dominant or having long periods of sustained pressure we need to make that count.”