Watford’s captain and head coach have praised the attitude and professionalism of Cristian Battocchio.

Battocchio looked set to leave the Golden Boys on loan last week but we understand the likeable midfielder is now set to remain with the Hornets during this transfer window at the request of Sannino.

Publically, the Hornets’ head coach has been reluctant to discuss the player’s future but we understand Sannino has told the Pozzos he wants to keep the Italy Under-21 international at Vicarage Road.

The Argentine-born midfielder has started the last two matches and with Iriney and Lewis McGugan suffering injuries at the weekend, and Alexander Merkel still suspended, he is likely to be in the XI against Manchester City tomorrow (Saturday).

Yesterday (Thursday) Sannino said: “Battocchio played the last game and will play the next game. As I’ve told you I don’t talk about the transfer market. “He is a big professional and in the last two games was impressive. He was prepared for the games and you could see that he was good on the pitch.

“So I am hoping that he can carry on in this way.” Battocchio had looked set for a loan move to Serie B side Padova last week, with his agent Claudio Vagheggi claiming a deal could be concluded in “a matter of days”.

The Golden Boys are still trying to sign a defensive midfielder but Battocchio’s importance to the club has increased further following injuries to McGugan and Iriney at the weekend.

The Hornets hierarchy were open to letting Battocchio leave prior to Saturday’s match with Bournemouth but we understand Sannino has since expressed a clear desire for the player to remain.

He has made 12 starts and nine substitute appearances for Watford this season in all competitions and his work rate and attitude on the pitch has seen him become a favourite among supporters. Battocchio is also popular in the Hornets’ dressing room.

“I love him, he’s one of my kids,” said veteran goalkeeper and Watford captain Manuel Almunia on Saturday.

“I hope he’s going to stay. But in football when somebody isn’t really happy, I 100 per cent understand if a player needs to enjoy himself more and needs to play more. I don’t know if he wants to leave or not – but the truth is that when he’s been playing, he’s been playing absolutely fantastic and that’s the only thing we can take from him.”

On his character off the pitch, Almunia added: “He’s a lovely lad. He never causes any problems when he doesn’t play.

“He never says anything, he just works – always with a smile on his face – and tries to do what the manager wants him to.

“That’s the attitude to have if you want to be a good footballer.”