Virtually no negatives as Watford secured stalemate at Burnley – Roy Hodgson

Roy Hodgson File Photo
(Image credit: Tim Goode)

Roy Hodgson believes that there were “virtually no negatives” from his first game in charge of Watford as they secured a goalless draw at Burnley on Saturday.

The former England manager was lured out of retirement with the prospect of another relegation battle following the sacking of Claudio Ranieri, but faces an uphill task with just 17 games remaining in the Premier League season.

Saturday’s was the Hornets’ first clean sheet in 31 attempts, but it was not enough to lift the club out of the bottom three and they remain one point behind 17th-placed Norwich, with a game in hand.

“It was a positive, there’s no doubt about that, to get a point at a difficult venue away from home, like Burnley, has got to be seen as a step in the right direction for us,” Hodgson said.

“I think it was important after having the seven or eight days working with the players and trying to establish a relationship with them and getting perhaps to understand some of the principles that we think are going to be important going forward.

“It was really nice to see that they could take that into the game and it produced the result. So I must say there are virtually no negatives from that game as such but of course, it’s a small step along the way.”

Watford travel to West Ham on Tuesday to face a team who will be looking to bounce back from successive league defeats to Manchester United and Leeds and a hard-fought FA Cup tie against non-league Kidderminster.

However, Hodgson is likely to be without star player Ismaila Sarr at his disposal, after the forward played for Senegal in the Africa Cup of Nations final on Sunday.

“It’s a very great achievement for Senegal to win the tournament for the first time, I was really happy for him, happy for Senegal,” the new Hornets boss said.

“But now we do badly need him back with us to help us win and I’m hoping that they will get him back or be able to get him back as soon as possible because the earlier we can count on him playing in our team, the better.”

When asked about the prospect of Sarr taking the field for the upcoming visit of Brighton, Hodgson said: “Well he’s clearly fit, so there won’t be any problems in terms of his fitness and luckily it seems he’s recovered from the injury.

“He’s played quite a lot in the last two or three games, so if he is back in time and has recovered from any travel backlog then I’m hoping we will be able to use him.”

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