Watford keeper given protective mask for play-offs

Jonathan Bond

Watford keeper Jonathan Bond has been fitted with a protective mask for Thursday's Championship play-off semi-final first leg at Leicester City.

Bond suffered a broken nose on the final day of the season, while Manuel Almunia has a hamstring problem.

"Jonathan looks nice with a mask," Hornets boss Gianfranco Zola told BBC Three Counties Radio.

"We've decided to give the goalkeepers another 24 hours and after that we will decide who will play."

He added: "Almunia is better but, as I say, we want to wait to give him more treatment and rest."

Bond, 19, was taken to hospital following a collision in but suffered only a broken nose.

He travelled to Italy to have the mask made and could feature against the Foxes.

Watford lost former Arsenal keeper Almunia in the warm-up before the Leeds game, a result which cost the Hornets automatic promotion.

Bond was drafted into the starting line-up, but after he was carried off on a stretcher academy product Jack Bonham, who was not expecting to even be in the squad, was forced to make his senior debut.

The 19-year-old was at fault for both of Leeds' goals and Zola's side, who also had striker Troy Deeney sent off, were unable to record the victory that would have seen them pip Hull to second place.

But Watford can still go up through the play-offs and Zola has said his men have recovered from their final-day disappointment.

"It took us 24 hours. Of course we were a little bit down. But we went to the end of season dinner and afterwards everyone felt much better," said the former Chelsea striker.

"It hit me hard. But I've been hit hard many times in my life and I always pick myself up.

"It won't be a problem. The players will react in the same way."

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