Gianfranco Zola says he has “total respect” for Lloyd Doyley, who is set to join a select Watford group tomorrow.

The popular defender will become just the 12th player in Hornets history to make 350 first-team starts for the club if he is named in the starting XI to face Wolves at Vicarage Road.

The 29-year-old has so far made a total of 384 appearances, which places him 11th on the club’s all-time list, and Zola said: “Seeing the way he’s performed recently, I can understand why he’s played so many games and why he’s always among the players who play. I’ve total respect for him.

“Sometimes during the season he plays, plays well, sometimes he scored and found himself on the bench but he never complained and worked hard. Since he’s been in the team his performances have been excellent so I’ve only admiration for him and a lot of respect.”

When it was pointed out that, in the context of modern football, it was unusual for all those appearances to be made at one club, the Hornets head coach responded: “That’s something good about it, it’s one of those good stories and we would like to see more of them nowadays.”

Although Luther Blissett is Watford’s all-time leading appearance maker with 503, the record for first-team starts is held by another defender who spent his whole career at Vicarage Road, Nigel Gibbs. He started 466 games.