Watford’s hopes of ending their six-game run without a win this afternoon against Leicester City are set to be boosted by the return of Abdoulaye Doucoure, one of the players Marco Silva regards as the “heartbeat” of his team.

The French midfielder was suspended for Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion after receiving his fifth yellow card in the 4-1 loss at home to Huddersfield Town, a game which Tom Cleverley missed through a one-game ban. And Silva regards both as players whose absence is keenly felt when they are not in his side.

Speaking after Saturday’s loss, Silva said it would make “a big, big difference” to have Doucoure available to call upon against the Foxes and continued: “Him and Tom Cleverley and [Nathaniel] Chalobah, the three players in our middle zone, they were amazing at the beginning of the season, they are really the heartbeat of our team.

“We have Ben {Watson], we have [Etienne] Capoue, we have [Roberto] Pereyra as well to play in our middle zone, but of course when you miss one player like Doucoure today, when we miss one player like Tom in our last game at home, I don’t talk more about Chalobah because he’s a longer term injury, but we felt it when we’re missing a player like him.”