Nigel Pearson applauds Watford squad for adapting to empty stadiums positively

Nigel Pearson had praised his Watford players for learning to deal with performing in front of empty stadiums.

The Hornets beat bottom club Norwich 2-1 earlier in the week to give themselves a much-needed shot in the arm in their own battle against Premier League relegation.

The victory was Watford’s first since the season restarted and was enough to see them sit three points clear of the bottom three heading into Saturday’s visit of Newcastle.

Pearson will be keen to continue amassing points as he aims to keep the club in the top flight, having taken over in December with Watford propping up the table.

And the 56-year-old saluted the way his players have now adapted to a lack of support rolling down from the stands.

“I suppose the only analogy I could give you would be actors who enjoy acting live on stage, compared to the sterile environment of working on a TV sitcom in front of a camera but nobody is there,” he told the Evening Standard.

“Our players aren’t used to not performing in front of the fans and the emotional attachment and the noise, cheers and boos and everything else.

“We are asking people to work in a way which is very alien to us, but still give the levels of performances that everybody expects. It is very easy to sit there and be critical, but I also understand the difficulties.

“I think the players have embraced the challenge very positively and will all continue to work together to achieve what we are setting out to do. It won’t be easy, but that’s the plan. Crack on with it.”

Captain Troy Deeney will no doubt play an important role in Watford’s survival bid – but the forward has not scored in his last six appearances.

It was team-mate Danny Welbeck who scored a sensational overhead kick to seal the comeback win over Norwich on Tuesday, his first Premier League goal for the club since a summer move from Arsenal.

“I’m very pleased for Danny because he’s been very patient,” Pearson said of the England international, whose first season at the club has been curtailed by injury.

“He’s working really hard to get back and, now he’s back, it is an opportunity for him to secure a run in the side – if he plays well, he’s got a great chance of doing that.

“We know we’ve got individuals who are capable of bringing something a little bit different, and that is very important.”

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