Maduka Okoye, Samuel Kalu and Tom Dele-Bashiru should be given minutes as Watford face Wycombe Wanderers.

Hornets will be looking for their first victory of pre-season when they welcome Wycombe Wanderers to their training ground on Saturday afternoon.

The hosts have endured a disappointing build-up to the 2022-23 campaign so far, whilst the visitors have produced mixed returns during their summer preparations to this point.

Start to life at Vicarage Road has been far from plain sailing for new Watford boss Rob Edwards so far, with the Welshman being the man tasked with overseeing a long-term project at the recently-relegated club.

The Hornets wish for the former Forest Green Rovers manager to instil a long-term vision, although it will still be expected for the club to succeed in an immediate return to the Premier League.

However, with multiple departures and arrivals within the playing squad already taking place during the transfer window, and many others expected to move between now and the season opener on August 1 against Sheffield United, Edwards has been unable to come near to settling on a first-choice starting lineup.

For many, pre-season friendlies are concentrated on match fitness ahead of the new season, with results not to be read into too much.

However, with a defeat to Cambridge United being followed by a goalless draw with Panathinaikos and another loss to Bolton Wanderers on Tuesday, it is easy for Watford fans to be concerned about the outlook for the upcoming campaign as things stand.

As in their first two warm-up matches of the summer, Watford did not perform too poorly against League One outfit Bolton in midweek, but difficulties in defence, combined with a lack of cutting edge in the final third, were enough to see the Hornets suffer another setback under their new boss, and Edwards will be keen for his side to step up a gear when they face another third-tier side on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Wycombe’s preparations for the 2022-23 campaign have been satisfactory up to this point so far.

A 3-0 victory over Fulham’s Under-23s side in their opening friendly on July 9 was followed by a goalless draw with amateur outfit Oxford City on Tuesday, leaving Gareth Ainsworth’s side unbeaten from their two warm-up games so far.

Completing two sets of 90 minutes without conceding a goal is also a positive for Ainsworth to take into Saturday’s behind-closed-doors encounter with Watford, but the Chairboys will be all too aware of the step up in quality that will be facing them.

The heartache of losing in the League One playoff final to Sunderland back in May will surely still be haunting them, but Wycombe will certainly be raring to go again in their search of a return to the second tier following their historic promotion back in 2020.

A home tie against Burton Albion awaits on July 30, and with just two friendlies against Bournemouth’s and Southampton’s development sides left to come following Saturday, Ainsworth will be looking for signs of a settled lineup when they test themselves against a strong Watford side.

With Ismaila Sarr and Emmanuel Dennis due to join in with training with the rest of their teammates this week, Watford’s two standout performers of last season could well be involved on Saturday.

The pair are seeking moves away from the Hornets this summer, but Edwards has admitted that both could well play a part over the coming weeks should no transfer materialise.

Imran Louza is unavailable for the Wycombe encounter due to knee surgery, whilst Tom Cleverley is unlikely to play a part again due to a muscular issue.

Summer recruit Vakoun Bayo was taken off early against Bolton due to illness, but the striker is expected to be fit to start against Wanderers on Tuesday, and Kiko Femenia could play a part after missing the Austria training camp due to family issues.

As for the visitors, they will be hoping to hand valuable minutes to several players once more on Saturday, including Nick Freeman, who missed over 11 months of action due to a serious knee injury before returning in the summer’s opening friendly.

Numerous trialists were handed opportunities by Ainsworth on Tuesday, so Wycombe’s small squad is likely to include a few once again for the trip to Watford.

Central midfielder Curtis Thompson is amongst those absent through injury for the visitors.

Watford possible starting lineup:
Bachmann; Ngakia, Kabasele, Cathcart, Kamara; Dele-Bashiru, Gosling, Kayembe; Pedro, Bayo, Sema

Wycombe Wanderers possible starting lineup:
Dickinson; Grimmer, Forino, Jacobson, Obita; Gape, Scowen; McCleary, Mehmeti, Kaikai; Vokes


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