Gianfranco Zola confirmed he did try to return to former club Chelsea to sign young defender Nathan Ake on loan.

Blues Academy manager Neil Bath revealed Ake had a chance to go out on loan to the Hornets but interim manager Rafa Benitez wanted to keep the 18-year-old at Chelsea.

Ake is a Dutch defender who can play at centre half or on the left side and is also comfortable in midfield.

He joined the Blues from Feyenoord two years ago and after a brief cameo on Boxing Day, made his full Chelsea debut against Middlesbrough last month.

Zola said: "He was one consideration we thought about when we were struggling with injuries but then we went for Matthew Briggs."