Quique Sanchez Flores feels Nathan Ake can “play perfectly” at centre-back after Miguel Britos was withdrawn from Watford’s starting XI shortly before their 1-0 against Leicester City with a hamstring injury.

The Uruguayan defender was named alongside Sebastian Prödl at centre-back for the Hornets.

However, he went back inside during the warm-up and it was confirmed 15 minutes prior to kick-off he would be replaced by Jose Holebas.

With Holebas coming into the side at left-back, Chelsea loanee Ake moved inside to partner Prödl at the heart of the Hornets’ defence for the first time this season.

The young Dutchman excelled and it was only a brief lapse in concentration by Holebas, nodding the ball straight to Riyad Mahrez, which saw Watford narrowly beaten by the Premier League leaders.

Asked how the Netherlands Under-21 international had fared against the Foxes, Flores was effusive in his praise for Ake.

He said: “In the first 15 minutes we had problems in the defensive line. Then we started to play better within the defensive line.

“We created stability in the defensive line and corrected a couple of moves and it was ok.

“I think Ake can play perfectly in this position. He should be trained and play in this position to improve but I’m really happy with his performance.”

It was far from ideal preparation for the Hornets with the league leaders in town. Ake has played at centre-back throughout his career, though, and Flores had no qualms about moving him inside for the first time this season.

“Ake normally plays as a left-back but he knows perfectly how (Craig) Cathcart or (Miguel) Britos work in other positions because they are defenders and they train together every day,” Flores explained.

“We always work with the attitude of giving confidence to every single player. The most important thing is that at the last moment (Nathan) Ake needed to change position from left-back to central defender.

“It was very difficult. He is training in a system where he knows his position and he knows the position of the other players.

“It’s not good to mend or try to correct things at the last moment. It’s not the best way to prepare for a match. But I’m not completely surprised [he played well].”