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Bond in line for surprise return - Zola

Jonathan Bond could return to boost Watford's promotion bid just five days after suffering a horror injury.

The 19-year-old goalkeeper was carried off on a stretcher in a neck brace and oxygen mask and taken to hospital following a collision with team-mate Ikechi Anya against Leeds on Saturday.

Fortunately Bond escaped with just a broken nose and has since had a protective mask fitted.

And with doubts remaining over the fitness of regular No1 Manuel Almunia, who has a hamstring problem, Bond could be back in goal at Leicester for tonight's Championship play-off semi-final first leg.

"He looks very nice in it," said manager Gianfranco Zola, who will test both goalkeepers' fitness today. "He will not be the first one to wear one so as long as he feels comfortable it will not be a problem."

The lengthy treatment Bond received meant Watford's game with Leeds went on 10 minutes after Hull had finished playing Cardiff and the Hornets needed just one goal to go up.

But as they piled forward, Leeds broke at the other end in the closing stages to secure a 2-1 win and condemn third-placed Hornets to the play-offs.

Yet despite the agony of coming so close, Zola insists spirits remain high in the squad.

"The last couple of days have been very good," he added. "Obviously the day after the match we all felt it, we knew we had lost a big opportunity, but that is part of football.

"The disappointment of Saturday is over. There is a determination to achieve something we think we deserve."

Watford ran out narrow 2-1 winners in both their meetings with Leicester this season and Zola expects two more tight matches, with the second leg at Vicarage Road on Sunday.

"I believe it will be even closer but we are in a good moment, we have been playing well recently."

LEICESTER v WATFORD,

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