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Watford boss Pearson ready to make changes for festive fixtures

Nigel Pearson has hinted Watford captain Troy Deeney could be protected during a hectic festive period during which the Hornets play three times in seven days.

It begins with the Premier League’s bottom club travelling to Sheffield United on Boxing Day before they host fellow relegation-battlers Aston Villa on December 28.

Wolves then visit Vicarage Road on January 1 and 31-year-old Deeney, who returned from a knee injury a month ago, may find himself among the substitutes at Bramall Lane.

“We will have to make changes,” Pearson said in reference to Abdoulaye Doucoure serving a one-match ban and therefore missing the clash with the Blades.

“I’m not going to use the word ‘rotate’ because it’s not about that. We will certainly have to make one change because of a suspension.

“Then we will have to look at whether players have picked up slight injuries. We might have to protect one or two players. We just talked about Troy, he has come back from quite a long lay-off with a knee injury.

“Even in the training schedule during the week, there were days that we have to manage the amount of training that some of our more senior players do, but that’s sensible.

“What is important is that we go into this run of fixtures and prioritise. We want to win as many as we can, clearly, but this is where the squad ethic really comes into its own and we will probably need to make changes – some forced and some we just decide to freshen it up.”

Pearson did add he had no complaints about the schedule over Christmas, saying it was “tradition”.

Forward Deeney helped Watford to an impressive and much-needed home win over Manchester United on Sunday.

Afterwards he dismissed talk of pressure being on him to score goals to take the Hornets out of the bottom three, telling Sky Sports: “Real pressure is watching my mum work three jobs trying to make ends meet for Christmas.”

Boss Pearson added: “In football, the pressure of relegation is a lot more difficult to deal with. In my experience, the pressure of succeeding is still there but is a lot better for your health than being at the wrong end of the table.

“I think what Troy is just trying to say, and he said it with quite a bit of humility as well, is ‘Look, this is just a job that we do’.

“I think he made that comment just to try and offload some pressure off his team-mates as much as anything.

“We are paid to do a job and we should embrace this challenge because that’s what it is. It’s not anything to be frightened of.

“We are in a difficult situation but I think we have the tools to get out of it. We have just got to make sure we work at it day by day, week by week, but in the bigger picture of the world, it’s sport.”