Ben Watson was not the most popular name on the Watford team-sheet at 2pm yesterday afternoon, especially after a rusty showing in his first start for 18 months at Brighton on Saturday.

But three hours later, the 32-year-old, who has already now played more than three times the Premier League minutes he did last season, was cheered off with his team-mates after playing an integral role in their first win in seven games against Leicester City.

It's not been an easy time for the 2012 FA Cup winner, who was a regular in the Hornets' line-up under Quique Sanchez Flores but has barely featured since his departure.

He said: "It's always great playing. It has been a tough time for myself, over the last 18 months.

"It sounds strange because I haven't played a lot, but I'm enjoying being part of the football club at the moment.

"Coming back in pre-season I've enjoyed everything about this year. Haven't played as much as I'd like to have played but it's difficult when the boys have done so well.

"It's about being patient and just continuing to work hard in training and eventually knew I'd get a chance.

"It's just everything. The manager and his staff and the other staff at the training ground, the boys too. It's a good group."

Watson's fight for a place has become more difficult with the arrival of quality competition in Tom Cleverley, Will Hughes and Nathaniel Chalobah this season, a bittersweet pill to swallow for the dependable midfielder.

Their addition has made the squad he is a part of better as a whole, but has left his path to the first-team restricted even in the face of a long-term injury to the latter.

"We've got some excellent players in midfield.There is no doubitng that. [Abdoulaye] Doucoure has been in my position for the majority of the season and has scored seven goals - I'm giving him that one too.

"You have to be patient and continue to work hard, enjoy training and being around the place."