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Friday, March 22

Premier League

Watford

FA Cup

Cleverley up for cup run after completing 'long road back' to action

PA | 2mo
The England midfielder played his first 90 minutes in almost 12 months in Sunday's win over Woking having undergone surgery on an Achilles injury.

Tom Cleverley is targeting an FA Cup run after making his first Watford start in almost a year as the Hornets saw off non-league Woking in the third round on Sunday.

Surgery on an Achilles injury had sidelined Cleverley since January 31, 2018 but – after three substitute appearances – he was named in a much-changed side that won 2-0 at the Laithwaite Community Stadium.

Will Hughes and substitute Troy Deeney scored the goals for the Premier League club, with Cleverley hitting the bar with a first-half free-kick as the England international played the whole game for Javi Gracia's side.

"It was good to get 90 minutes under my belt," Cleverley said.

"It's been a long hard year and a long road back. It's a big moment for me and a good win for the lads

"Post-surgery it's been a lot better. I've had a time-frame, light at the end of the tunnel but the first four months were a bit unknown and it was hard.

"These are the points when a footballer needs to show the mental toughness to get through."

The win at Woking was only Cleverley's second appearance under Gracia, with his injury coming shortly after the Spaniard was appointed 12 months ago.

"It was bad timing," added the 29-year-old former Manchester United midfielder.

"The lads in my position have done fantastic so I've had to wait my turn. All I can do is my best, training, matches and yes, it's been a good week.

"I got 40 minutes at Bournemouth and 90 at Woking. I feel like I'm getting back in."

Cleverley lifted the Premier League title during his time at Old Trafford but never managed to win the FA Cup with the Red Devils.

He did reach the final while on loan at Aston Villa as they lost to Arsenal in 2015 and is aiming for a similar run this season with Watford.

"From my experience, what a cup run did for Villa when I was there, we got to the final, it was massive for the club," he said.

"It improved our league season, it improved the atmosphere around the club. It's game by game and you need a bit of luck in the draw but I think we should be looking to have a bit of a run. It's great for every club."



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3Tottenham HotspurSpurs30201957322561
4Arsenal30186663392460
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd30177658401858
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7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves30128103836244
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13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle3198143140-935
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16Southampton3079143450-1630
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2Manchester CityMan City30242479215874
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs30201957322561
4Arsenal30186663392460
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd30177658401858
6Chelsea30176750331757
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves30128103836244
8Watford30127114244-243
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham31126134146-542
10Leicester CityLeicester31125144043-341
11Everton31117134342140
12Bournemouth31115154356-1338
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle3198143140-935
14Crystal Palace3096153641-533
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2996143242-1033
16Southampton3079143450-1630
17Burnley3186173559-2430
18Cardiff CityCardiff3084182757-3028
19Fulham3145222970-4117
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield3135231857-3914
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