Watford have recently lost out on promotion to the promised land of the Premier League after play-off final heartbreak against Crystal Palace at Wembley. 

What does this defeat mean for Watford’s bunch of loanees who have carried them at times this season? Can their departures herald in a new era of lean times and possibly a struggle for Championship survival?

Watford’s starting XI in the play-off final contained no less than eight players who were on loan, some coming from Udinese like 20-goal hit man Matej Vydra and veteran Marco Cassetti while others hail from La Liga outfit Granada like wing-back Ikechi Anya.

As the owners of the Hertfordshire club have connections with both of these teams, they have used them wisely importing quality players on loan while using Watford as a finishing school for young and unwanted talent. 

But now that Watford’s promotion hopes have crumbled, the continental clubs will only be too happy to welcome back their prodigal sons with open arms. This leaves Gianfranco Zola with the bare bones of a squad, which could see them being more likely to be battling against the drop rather than pushing for Premier League football.

The possible saving grace may be that there is a new crop of fresh young talent to be put through their paces but this can only ever be a short term solution. 

It would make it very hard to be challenging for promotion again next season with an arrangement like this. Promotion is what the fans want and as soon as they realize that this football finishing school won’t take them to the top, the better.

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