Quique Sanchez-Flores has thrown Jose Holebas’ future into doubt by warning the left-back he needs to train “harder and better” to improve.
Holebas was a £1.8million summer signing from Roma, where his form had kept Ashley Cole on the periphery, and was expected to feature heavily in Sanchez-Flores’ first team this season.
He has been limited to only three appearances so far, however, due to competition from the impressive Ikechi Anya and Nathan Ake. And amid reports that he will leave the club in January, his manager has demanded more from the defender.
“Holebas needs to improve,” said Sanchez-Flores of the Greece international.
“I chose him in the first match because he was the left-back but his performances have not been enough to keep him in the first XI, so it’s very easy for me. It’s not enough.
“He needs to train more and train better and have a better understanding of everything.
“Holebas is waiting, fighting and trying to play in the first XI. I like the players to fight to come back to the first XI.
“Maybe when he arrived he thought it would be easy to play for Watford but the level of the Watford team is high.
“He is fighting with Anya, fighting with Ake and the competition is high in this position.”
Another reasonably high-profile summer recruit, Alessandro Diamanti, also arrived from from Serie A and is yet to play as much as had been expected, but Sanchez-Flores has insisted he has no concerns about the Italian and that he is simply focused on improving his conditioning for the Premier League.
“I had the conversation two weeks ago with him,” he said. “He’s experienced, he’s working hard, but his physical level is not enough at the moment. He didn’t do pre-season, which is very important – in this age it’s essential.
“He’s a good player, he’s good technically and he’s going to help us during the season, but at the moment he’s not ready for the first XI.”