Carrow Road return for recalled Jackson

Former City skipper Matt Jackson could be back in action at Carrow Road tonight after Watford boss Aidy Boothroyd cut short his loan spell at Blackpool, courtesy of a 24-hour recall clause.

Former City skipper Matt Jackson could be back in action at Carrow Road tonight after Watford boss Aidy Boothroyd cut short his loan spell at Blackpool, courtesy of a 24-hour recall clause.

First-choice centre-back Jay DeMerit suffered a serious calf injury after just nine minutes of the Hornets' 3-0 home defeat by West Bromwich Albion on Saturday and Jackson is expected to start tonight, as Aidy Mariappa is likely to be deemed too inexperienced.

Jackson's loan had been extended at Blackpool for another month on Friday but he will now return to face the club where he spent nearly five years as a first choice centre-back.

He signed for Watford this summer from Premier League outfit Wigan Athletic and this will be the second time he has faced the Canaries - the last time being for the Latics against City in October 2003 - since departing in 2001 as a result of being deemed surplus to manager Nigel Worthington's requirements.

Jackson has only featured in the League Cup for Watford since his summer move but has played in the last three games for Simon Grayson's Blackpool and was expected to start again in their televised match against Barnsley last night. Grayson said: “We half expected the call when we heard Watford had sustained a couple of injuries. Matt has done extremely well for us and has been a popular figure in the dressing room.”

One City player who would love to make Jackson's return to Norfolk as difficult as possible will be Czech striker David Strihavka. The former Banik Ostrava player had a four-day trial with Watford in January and described his time at the Hornets' London Colney training ground as “unpleasant”.

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With Dion Dublin ruled out, Strihavka could get the chance to show Boothroyd what he missed out on.

Watford captain Gavin Mahon is confident the Hornets can banish memories of their weekend blip.

Mahon's men suffered their first defeat since August when their run of five consecutive wins came to an end, but he has no doubt they can get their title campaign back on track at Carrow Road.

“We've got a game straightaway now, which is what we wanted, and we've got to go there and get something now,” said Mahon. “We've got Norwich away and then Colchester at home, so it's two games we are looking to get maximum points from.

“We're still the team that everybody's got to chase, and we know we can play better.

“You have off days, but it's how you react which is important.”

Mahon was substituted against the Baggies and the midfielder is determined he and his team-mates will bounce back.

Watford retain a five-point lead over second-placed Bristol City - at home to another set of promotion hopefuls, Charlton, this evening - while West Brom have good prospects of making further progress at home to Sheffield Wednesday.

“It does frustrate me,” Mahon said, after having to make way on Saturday. “But I've had it before here and I've overcome it.

“I've played a lot of games for this club and it's early in the season yet for your own fans to start turning on you.

“We're top of the league and five points clear. But I'm the captain and I've got to lead by example.”