Christian Kabasele joined Watford from Genk in the summer of 2016 for £6 million. Since joining, the two-time-capped Belgium international has been a mainstay in the starting 11 when fit. Unfortunately, his time at Vicarage Road has seen him miss handfuls of matches every season due to injuries. Now on the brink of returning from yet another injury, his starting 11 spot might no longer belong to him.
Christian Kabasele Injury Return Might Not Spell Starting Spot
Christian Kabasele Nearing Full Fitness
The centre-back has not played since Watford’s 2-0 defeat against Huddersfield Town in the middle of December. Bruising in the knee relegated the 30-year-old to the sidelines for an extended period.
For much of the past three months, his timetable has been unclear. The club recently revealed he is out of the rest-phase and treatment room, and he is now outside running. He is expected to rejoin full first-team training by the end of the international break.
Loved By Ivic, Unseen By Munoz
Under former head coach Vladimir Ivic, Kabasele started 17 out of 20 possible matches, with two of the absences being due to fitness concerns. However, Ivic’s final match in charge was the 2-0 defeat against Huddersfield Town.
Thus, Ivic’s replacement, Xisco Munoz, has never seen Kabasele in training. Twenty-three-year-old Chilean Francisco Sierralta, who never started a league match when Kabasele was fit, has since emerged as the Hornets’ clear first-choice centre-back. William Troost-Ekong is the man Munoz prefers to pair alongside Sierralta – a pairing that has brought the Hornets tremendous success as of late.
Season Outlook for the Defender
Amidst the rise of Sierralta and his formidable partnership with Troost-Ekong, Kabasele is on the outside-looking-in for starting minutes. With Craig Cathcart and Ben Wilmot, both talented centre-backs, already struggling to steal starting minutes, throwing Kabasele back into the fine-form defensive department does not indicate he will be able to receive the same playing time as he did under Ivic.
Kabasele is not at fault for his injury, nor can he be blamed for falling behind Sierralta and Troost-Ekong. But, as Munoz still does not know much about Kabasele, and the current defensive recipe is working, Kabasele is likely not going to be called upon every week.
Having him back will be brilliant for depth amidst an intense run-in. Nonetheless, the Hornets’ defensive-set-up does not need tweaking. Kabasele has a tall hill to climb if he is to reclaim his place as a starter.