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O'Neill knows he can rely on classy Craig Cathcart


Filling the gap: Craig Cathcart starring at Watford

Filling the gap: Craig Cathcart starring at Watford

©William Cherry / Presseye

Filling the gap: Craig Cathcart starring at Watford

You won't hear many of the television pundits talking about him, but down Watford way, the supporters will tell you that Northern Ireland's Craig Cathcart has been one of the most consistent players in the Premier League this season.

And with good reason.

Cathcart has played in all 10 of Watford's league games in the current campaign and has been been hugely important in making the Hornets one of the meanest sides in the division.

Only Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham have conceded fewer goals - eight - than Watford who have shipped 10.

Not bad for a newly promoted outfit. Sensational when you compare them to Bournemouth and Norwich City who also came up from the Championship last season.

The goals against column for the Cherries reads 22 and for the Canaries it is 21.

Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores rates Cathcart, not just for his defensive qualities but also his ability on the ball, which the player honed during his youth at Manchester United.

In Watford's promotion season, Cathcart played 29 games in the Championship and has become one of the first names on the Watford team sheet.

Today he will hope to help his side earn three points at home to in-form West Ham.

All the while Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill is watching Cathcart's progress knowing that defensively his team look strong ahead of the Euro 2016 finals.

Four of his Premier League regulars play at the back -the WBA trio of Chris Brunt, Gareth McAuley and Jonny Evans plus Cathcart.

McAuley and Evans may be considered the first choice centre backs at present, but Cathcart showed when he came in for the games against Greece and Finland that he is more than capable of delivering big performances in big games, even scoring in the latter.

O'Neill would have no fears throwing Cathcart into the fray in next year's Euro finals.

222 days to go!

Belfast Telegraph