The gruelling wait is nearly over. Two months into its quarter-year sabbatical, the return of competitive club football is on the horizon. But first, the small matter of pre-season — increasingly important in the eyes of coaches, players and fans alike — brings itself to the fore.
Last season was one to remember for Watford. Appearing in a first FA Cup final since 1984 perfectly supplemented the club's most prolific Premier League campaign to date, and preparations are already underway with a view towards achieving further success in 2019/20.
The Hornets, currently in their second week since returning from vacation, have scheduled four friendlies across July and the beginning of August. Javi Gracia's squad will lock horns with European powerhouses Ajax and Bayer Leverkusen at neutral venues while undertaking a training camp in Austria, before a second visit of the year to Loftus Road Stadium and Queens Park Rangers precedes the annual Graham Taylor Matchday, which this year will be contested against Spanish outfit Real Sociedad.
Below is the full list of Watford's pre-season encounters.
Thursday, July 18, 17:00 (BST)
SaalfeldenArena Bürgerau, Saalfelden am Steinernen Meer, Austria
Saturday, July 20, 14:00 (BST)
Stadio Alois Latini, Zell am See, Austria
Queens Park Rangers
Saturday, July 27, 15:00 (BST)
Loftus Road Stadium, London, United Kingdom
Saturday, August 3, 15:00 (BST)
Vicarage Road Stadium, Watford, United Kingdom
Returning to league action
Exactly one week after that third instalment of the game in tribute to Watford's greatest ever manager, Taylor, the Hornets kick off their 2019/20 Premier League campaign at home to Brighton & Hove Albion for the second year running.
Vicarage Road witnessed a comfortable 2-0 win for Watford in the corresponding fixture last season, and Gracia — as well as the abundance of supporters piling into the 21,250 capacity ground for the first time in what will be nearly three months — will be hoping for a similar outcome this time around.