Watford continue their 2021/22 Carabao Cup campaign with a clash against Championship side Stoke City at Vicarage Road on Tuesday night.
The Hornets head into the game high on confidence after beating Norwich 3-1 away from home in the Premier League at the weekend.
Xisco Munoz’s side defeated Crystal Palace 1-0 in the second round of the competition last month, with Watford now hoping to overcome Michael O’Neill’s Potters side.
With it being a break from the Premier League, Munoz could decide to make some changes to his team to offer fringe players an opportunity to impress him. One player he must unleash against Stoke is centre-forward and summer signing Ashley Fletcher.
Josh King has started three of Watford’s five Premier League matches and is yet to score his first goal for the club, despite leading the line against the Canaries at the weekend. It could be time to hand him a rest and offer Fletcher a chance to show that the 25-year-old can do a better job as the number nine for the Hornets in the top flight.
He has played just one game for Watford since arriving on a free transfer in the summer and scored the winning goal as Munoz’s side beat Palace in the previous round of this competition. This shows that he has the quality to be a match-winner for the Hornets, just as he proved it against the Eagles last month.
He also previously scored 11 goals and provided seven assists in the 2019/20 Championship campaign for Middlesbrough, showing that he knows how to be involved in the action in the final third.
Fletcher’s former Sunderland boss Chris Coleman has hailed the forward’s demenaour, saying: “He has a super attitude. If you are playing as a striker for Sunderland and you’re struggling and his performances haven’t been great, you are going to come under scrutiny and pressure, which he has.”
This shows that the £13k-per-week beast will give his all on the pitch and put in a shift for Munoz, whilst also having the ability required to potentially win the game. Therefore, Fletcher must be unleashed against Stoke City to give him the chance to showcase his quality and prove that he can score goals consistently.
If he can come in and produce a strong performance, it could boost his chances of being included in a Premier League match for Watford for the first time. However, it is up to him to win over his manager first.