Abdoulaye Doucoure is among the Premier League's top-scoring midfielders, the only player outside last season's top six in the top 10 for completed passes, and has become a mainstay in Watford's midfield with just four months of this campaign gone.

But the 24-year-old still has a way to go, in the eyes of Marco Silva. The Portuguese head coach is often keen to talk up his players - and has done so regularly for Richarlison, Tom Cleverley, Heurelho Gomes and others during the season.

That makes his comments on Doucoure more notable when asked about whether the midfielder has surprised him with his performances so far, and suggests Silva still thinks the already highly rated Frenchman has more gears to go through.

He said: "Of course, Doucoure is improving and doing fantastically. He’s a player who I pay a lot of attention with, he needs to improve more and more with his tactical behaviour and positioning in important moments of the game.

"Doucoure is scoring and doing fantastically, he’s feeling the pleasure of scoring but this is all possible because everyone helps him, and playing alongside someone like Tom Cleverley."

Doucoure is only two goals away from his most profitable season to date, having scored seven for Rennes back in 2013/14.

Silva feels the Hornets' current formation, putting an extra man in defence, has helped to give him extra freedom in the middle of the park - and so too playing with one disciplined colleague in particular.

He said: "With three at the back, he feels a little bit more free to play in the midfield line, and with Tom alongside him everything looks different because Tom is a fantastic player, and has learned how to deal with everything that happens in the game.

"What Doucoure is doing now is possible because Tom covers him if he needs to, for the moments he arrives in the box. You need to play with one player, really smart, and Tom understands everything which happens in the game.

"I’ve told our midfielders to shoot if you have a chance, even outside the box. The goal he scored against Manchester united was very good and inside the box, and it was a great first-time finish.

"He has a lot of confidence at the moment but I’m sure he wants to improve. There’s some important things in the game that people might not pay attention to but he needs to improve on, and it’s my job to do that."