Hornets head coach Beppe Sannino was pleased with the debut performance of Watford’s new signing Alexander Merkel against Reading despite the creative midfielder being sent off in injury time.

The 21-year-old started his first competitive match since March on Saturday at the back of Watford’s midfield three and grew into the game in the second half.

An encouraging performance was somewhat soured however in the 94th minute when Merkel was shown a straight red card for a reckless tackle on Reading’s Nick Blackman.

Sannino admitted the sending off was “a shame” but was pleased overall with Merkel’s display.

“Yes [I was pleased overall] - apart from the red card, he showed me a lot of desire and he worked hard but in the first half the team wasn’t performing well so he was exposed,” Sannino said.

“He reflected the performance of the whole team - his first half was not helped by his teammates.

“He’s a lad who has good technical quality but we shouldn’t expect Merkel to win the game for us.”

Merkel is suspended for three matches including tomorrow's FA Cup replay against Bristol City and the next two Championship games against Bournemouth and Birmingham City.