Hodgson: ‘We’re Ready To Go Again’

By: Watford FC Staff

Roy Hodgson has no new injury concerns for Tuesday night’s clash with West Ham United (7.45pm KO), and is hoping to see his side build on their performance during Saturday’s 0-0 draw against Burnley at Turf Moor.

The Hornets picked up their first clean sheet of the season in difficult conditions in Lancashire, and Hodgson felt there were “no negatives” in his first game as Watford manager.

With Emmanuel Dennis back from his one-game suspension ahead of a visit to the London Stadium, the Englishman is looking forward to seeing Watford’s top scorer in action after spending two weeks watching him closely in training.

“The injury situation is very good, we have a large complement of players available,” Hodgson confirmed.

“The only ones definitely not available are [Nicolas] Nkoulou, Rob Elliot is nursing a small injury and Ismaïla Sarr, who played last night. We don’t know as of yet what time he will be returning. The Sporting Director is in contact with them, I haven’t had a chance to speak to him but I hope it is good news when I do.

“To get a point away from home at a difficult venue like Burnley has got to be seen as a step in the right direction for us. I think it was important after having seven or eight days working with the players, trying to establish a relationship with them and getting them to understand some of the principles we think will be important going forward. It was really nice to see that they could take that into the game and produce the result. There are no negatives from that game, but it is a small step along the way.

“I thought their discipline, their desire [satisfied me]. I’ve used the word resilience and I’ll use it again, you need that in those conditions against a well-drilled Burnley team who have been doing what they do so well for so many years. It asked a lot of questions of some of the players who haven’t had much experience in the Premier League, so I was very pleased with the way they went about their business.”

Sarr started Sunday night’s AFCON final, playing 70 minutes as his native Senegal lifted the trophy in Cameroon. Hodgson watched the match and is looking forward to seeing the winger return to the club’s London Colney training ground, bringing his international form back to Hertfordshire.

“We hope so! It’s a great achievement for Senegal to win the tournament for the first time, I was really happy for him,” he said. “It’s great to see them win but now we do badly need him back with us. The earlier we can count on him playing in our team the better.”

The winger’s return and Dennis’ availability prompted suggestions of how the duo fit into Hodgson’s system. The manager believes the Hornets can be flexible and cater to both players in various formations, and hopes they can provide important contributions in the fight against relegation.

“We’re not wedded to 4-4-2, we’re not wedded to the way we went about the job against Burnley, we just felt that to get the result against Burnley we needed that type of compact shape,” Hodgson explained.

“We played a lot of 4-3-3 at Crystal Palace, it might well turn out that with the players here 4-3-3 might turn out to be a better formation for us than the 4-4-2 we went with the other day, and we might even find ourselves playing 4-5-1 sometimes.

“The thing I will be least anxious to change is a back four because we have some very good full-backs at the club. It won’t affect our principles; the way I shall be asking people to work defensively in a 4-3-3 won’t change from what I was asking for the other night and the same goes for going forward.

“I’m looking forward to seeing Ismaïla and working with him; I've seen Emmanuel in training and I’m looking forward to seeing him in the game.

“I’m hoping that the obvious talent of these players and the fact that they have scored goals this season will continue because we’re going to need goals. There’s no way that we’re going to go through 17 games and hope to win 1-0. These players are going to be asked to step forward, take responsibility and do what the club has brought them into the club to do.”

Hodgson has faced off against David Moyes on several occasions, with both men having taken charge of over 1,000 games during their managerial careers. The Watford boss was full of praise for tomorrow’s opponent, and the Hammers’ 2021/22 season so far.

He said: “It’s been excellent, I’m not at all surprised, I know the way David works and members of his staff. He’s a very good manager and has found himself a club that is taking full advantage of his management skill.”

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