Eddie Howe has attempted to distance himself from the affairs of the national team this week after being touted as a possible successor to Sam Allardyce this week.
The Bournemouth manager, though, found the England back on the agenda after his side twice conceded a lead and were ultimately denied victory by Isaac Success’s first goal since becoming Watford’s record signing this summer.
The focus on this occasion was on the international prospects of Callum Wilson, the impressive forward who put Bournemouth ahead with a first half header, and Jack Wilshere whose continuing efforts to rehabilitate himself with the south coast club could be rewarded with an international recall when Gareth Southgate’s announces his first squad as caretaker-manager on Sunday.
Wilson certainly did his prospects no harm and while Wilshere will want to forget the sliced shot that struck the woodwork when the midfielder was confronted with an unguarded net immediately before he was withdrawn, his 74-minute appearance was another step towards full fitness.
For Howe though, the overwhelming feeling was one of frustration that his side allowed Watford back into the game, first when Troy Deeney cancelled out Wilson’s goal and then again when Success headed the home side level two minutes after Josh King had scored seconds after appearing as a 63rd minute substitute.
“When you’re leading in the game and you have as many chances as we did second half, I think we leave disappointed,” said Howe. “But there are definitely positives to take from today. Two goals and hit the woodwork three times. We looked a real threat going forwards and that hasn’t always been a case this season.”
Wilson’s performance up front had much to do with the threat posed by Howe’s side, particularly in the first half. He may have benefited from a mistake by Heurelho Gomes, the Watford keeper, who allowed the forward’s 32nd minute header to squirm under his body, but the goal was reward for a display that ensured an uncomfortable afternoon for centre-back Sebastian Prodl.
“I think Callum has the ability to get there (England),” said Howe. “He was very close last time after his hat-trick against West Ham and his goal against Sunderland, before his injury last season. I certainly think it’s a possible for him. From my perspective at the moment it’s still making sure he’s fitness wise and injury wise okay and continues his good form, because he’s building some momentum now.”
Deeney’s header from Junior Stanislas’s cross four minutes after the restart brought Watford level before King’s 25-yard shot was deflected past Gomes. Success ensured the match ended in a stalemate with a header from Jose Holebas’s free-kick for his first goal since his £12.5 million arrival from Granada although Walter Mazzarri warned he expects more from the forward.
“Success has always played very well when he came in,” said Mazzarri. “The only thing he needs now is more continuity and to help more the team. Strikers need to run up and down for the whole pitch, to help the team. This is what Success needs to understand. If he gets this, he will be one of the most important strikers we have.”
Watford (4-4-2): Gomes; Zuniga, Prodl, Kaboul, Holebas; Amrabat, Peyreyra, Behrami, Capoue (Guedioura 78) ; Deeney, Ighalo (Success 58).
Subs not used: Pantilimon, Kenedy, Doucoure, Watson, Kabasele.
Bournemouth (4-2-3-1): Boruc; A Smith, Francis, Cook, Daniels; Surman, Arter; Stanislas, Wilshere (Gosling 74) , Ibe 6 (King 62); C Wilson (Afobe 90).
Subs not used: Federici, Ake, Afobe, Gradel, B Smith.
Referee: M Dean