Watford will again be without Valon Behrami for their trip to Sunderland on Saturday and while Sebastian Prödl has returned to training this week the defender is unlikely to feature at the Stadium of Light.

Swiss international Behrami has missed the Hornets’ last three matches due to a calf injury and will not feature against the Black Cats.

His absence has been longer than expected but Watford head coach Quique Sanchez Flores stresses it is only a minor issue that is keeping the midfielder sidelined.

“It isn’t serious,” Flores says. “He has a little problem in his calf. He is fighting to get back fit though and is a very professional player.

“We will be patient with him. He was very important in the early matches and we needed his character and experience.”

Prödl has also been ruled out of Watford’s last three matches after sustaining a calf injury while on international duty with Austria.

The 28-year-old returned to training earlier this week but Flores says the centre-back is unlikely to make the match day squad tomorrow.

The only other players who will miss the game are long term absentees Tommie Hoban and Joel Ekstrand.

Hoban continues to recover from a groin operation he underwent in October and Flores believes the younger centre back could return to first team training in a month’s time.

Ekstrand, meanwhile, continues to gain fitness following nine months out with a knee injury.

“Ekstrand is working with us day by day,” Flores said when asked about the Swedish defender.

“One day he is training with us and the next day he is doing work somewhere else. That is the process. By the winter transfer window if we decide he stays with us then he will be ready to play.”