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Watford to assess Senegal's Afcon winner Sarr ahead of Brighton fixture – Hodgson

09:29 GMT+3 11/02/2022
Ismaila Sarr FC Watford
The former England manager on why the Lion of Teranga will have to wait to play for the Hornets again after returning from the Afcon competition

Watford manager Roy Hodgson has revealed winger Ismaila Sarr will not walk straight into the team’s starting XI when they come up against Brighton & Hove Albion in a Premier League fixture on Saturday.

The 23-year-old is expected to return to his club after helping Senegal lift their first-ever Africa Cup of Nations title following a 4-2 penalty victory against Egypt in the final at Olembe Stadium in Yaounde, Cameroon last Sunday.

Though Sarr missed the Lions of Teranga’s group stage matches owing to injury, he returned as a substitute in the quarter-final clash against Equatorial Guinea and scored in the 3-1 win.

He also featured in the semi-final against Burkina Faso as a substitute but was handed his first start by coach Aliou Cisse in the 33rd edition of the tournament against the Pharaohs, though he was withdrawn in the 77th minute for Boulaye Dia.

The 74-year-old former England manager has explained his plans for Sarr ahead of the team’s fixture against the Seagulls at Vicarage Road.

“[Ismaila] Sarr comes back for training tomorrow [Friday] so I will see him then,” Hodgson told the club’s official website. “Many congratulations to him because it’s a fantastic achievement for Senegal to win the Africa Cup of Nations, and I’m sure he will still have a very warm glow in the aftermath of that victory.

“I can’t say [that he will be involved], I haven’t even met him yet. The first thing will be to meet him, speak to him and welcome him back to the fold, and to congratulate him. The second thing will be to have an assessment as to where he is and how he is feeling.”

In a recent interview, Hodgson, who joined the Hornets after the sacking of Italian coach Claudio Ranieri, explained why his struggling side needs badly needs Sarr at his best.

“It was a very great achievement for Senegal to win the tournament for the first time. I was really happy for Ismaila [Sarr], really happy for Senegal, and really happy for another ex-player of mine in Cheikhou [Kouyate],” explained Hodgson.

“It was great to see them win, but now we do badly need Ismaila back with us to help us win, so I'm hoping they'll be able to get him back as soon as possible because the earlier we can count on him playing in our team the better.”

Before heading for Afcon, Sarr had managed five Premier League goals for Watford from 12 appearances this season and raked in 1032 minutes of play.

Watford are currently placed second from the bottom of the 20-team league table with 15 points from 22 matches, having won four, drawn three, and lost 15.