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Pearson hoping home advantage works in Watford’s favour against Aston Villa

Nigel Pearson is hopeful Watford can make the most of home advantage when they host relegation rivals Aston Villa on Saturday.

The Hornets moved off the bottom of the Premier League with a 1-1 draw at Sheffield United on Boxing Day to back up the impressive 2-0 victory over Manchester United last Sunday.

Villa, meanwhile, claimed a 1-0 win at basement club Norwich, although they are still in the relegation zone at the halfway point of the campaign.

After entertaining Dean Smith’s side, who are five points better off than Watford, Pearson’s team will welcome Wolves to Vicarage Road on January 1.

He said: “We have got a run of home games coming up now and I don’t know how people see them, but they are all tough.

“We have got to try and emulate certainly the game last week against Manchester United in terms of creating a really good atmosphere at the ground and we need to win more games.”

Pearson, 56, has plenty of respect for rival manager Smith, who similarly earned his shot in the top flight after winning promotion from the Championship.

While the Villa boss has just come through a tricky period where his side struggled for wins, he earned praise from Watford’s head coach.

“I think he has done a really good job and he is a very likeable man,” Pearson added.

“Obviously, they are having a few problems this year, but he is someone I have a lot of respect for and I know he will be working hard to make sure their own season remains on the right lines.”

The Hornets will welcome Abdoulaye Doucoure back for the clash with Villa after he missed the encounter at Sheffield United due to a one-match ban for receiving five yellow cards in the Premier League this season.

He is expected to replace Nathaniel Chalobah, but Watford remain without Jose Holebas (ankle), Tom Cleverley (heel), Danny Welbeck (hamstring), Sebastian Prodl and Daryl Janmaat (both knee).

New signing Joao Pedro is ineligible to make his debut until January and Pearson is tempted to bring in more reinforcements when the winter transfer window opens.

“We have lost a bit of depth in the squad just because we have a number of senior players – who have been regulars I think – who have been out, so it will be a bonus to get them back,” he said.

“It coincides with January as well and I’m not discounting that we might – as a club – freshen it up, but those discussions are ongoing.

“At this moment in time it’s about managing the fixture congestion and keeping the players we’ve got available as fresh as possible and continuing with our fight to find a way of getting out of the bottom three.”