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Watford boss Claudio Ranieri expects ‘big battle’ with relegation rivals Burnley

Watford v Manchester City – Premier League – Vicarage Road
(Image credit: Tess Derry)

Claudio Ranieri has told his Watford players to roll up their sleeves and be prepared for a “battle” against relegation rivals Burnley.

The Hornets lie a point and a place above the Premier League relegation zone following Saturday’s dramatic 1-1 draw at Newcastle.

Burnley have slipped to the foot of the table, but are only three points behind Watford and have games in hand on all the teams above them.

With fellow strugglers Norwich the visitors on Friday, Ranieri knows his side face a pivotal week in their bid to beat the drop.

“It’s important to not lose the game and it’s important to have another good match, with the attitude, with passion, with all our form,” said the Italian.

“I expect a big battle. Burnley are one of the best teams at putting the ball in the opposition box and we have to stay careful and play our football.

“They are used to playing this way and I’m sure they will continue to play this way. You can’t change mentality in one week.

“I’m sure it will be another great match tomorrow. We know we are in a relegation battle. Burnley are a solid team, a strong team, it will be a battle. We must be ready.”

Ranieri has recalled veteran goalkeeper Ben Foster following a spell out injured, with Austria international Daniel Bachmann dropping to the bench at Newcastle.

The Hornets head coach believes the 38-year-old’s character and experience will be crucial in the weeks to come.

“Foster is a very good personality and we can start from the back to play football,” he added.

“It’s good that I have two good goalkeepers – but Ben is at a little more of an advantage than the other.”

Ranieri reported no new coronavirus cases and a clean bill of health ahead of the rearranged clash after Emmanuel Dennis, Kiko Femenia and Christian Kabasele also returned from injury at St James’ Park.

Adam Masina, Imran Louza and William Troost-Ekong are still on Africa Cup of Nations duty.

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