QSF On Dawson: “You Can See How Professional This Player Is”
By Kevin Affleck
Quique Sánchez Flores praised the commitment to the cause of Craig Dawson, who battled against illness on the eve of the match to declare himself fit to play against Burnley.
The defender was ill overnight at the team hotel and was touch and go to play against Burnley, but he recognised the importance of the game and how significant a role he had to play in the absence of the suspended Christian Kabasele and the injured Sebastian Prödl. Dawson had made the second most blocks in the league before the latest round of games and topped the clearance list against Norwich.
"Dawson was leading the defensive line well, even though he was really dizzy this morning, really bad with his stomach," said Sánchez Flores. "We only had a 50 per cent chance of putting him in the line-up. We had doubts about putting him in the first XI until the last minute so you can see how professional this player is."
Dawson sunk to his knees at one point during the first half and the fear was he would have to be replaced. He bravely soldiered on, mixing it with the uncompromising Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood before eventually being forced off in first-half injury time following a clash with Wood.
The challenge left Dawson with blood streaming from a head wound and he had to be led from the field by physio Pete Webb and club doctor Matthew Ogunsanya.
Minus their in-form defender, the Hornets conceded three second-half goals from set-pieces.
"We lost an important player today, who was controlling how we defend," said Sánchez Flores. "But it's not about about how we lost Dawson. It's how the first goal affected us. It's the big difference."
The loss of Dawson was the sixth straight time the luckless Hornets have had to replace a player before half-time.
"It's incredible," said the Head Coach. "I don't want to talk as it sounds like an excuse, but it's not normal."
Sánchez Flores also lost Daryl Janmaat the day before the game after he reported to the team hotel with a knee problem.
"He was okay and this morning he had a problem with the knee," said Sanchez Flores. "It's swollen. We are fighting against elements."