Javi Gracia praised Nathaniel Chalobah for the calibre of his display after the 3-0 defeat at Chelsea.

The 24-year-old has endured a difficult campaign with Watford as he seeks to move on from the fractured kneecap which saw him ruled out for the majority of the 2017/18 season.

But with Etienne Capoue sidelined for yesterday’s trip to Stamford Bridge, Chalobah was given his first Premier League outing since the start of December and he responded by producing a composed display in midfield against the club where he rose up through the ranks.

The Hornets head coach replaced Chalobah with Tom Cleverley midway through the second half with the visitors trailing 2-0, but he was pleased with what he had seen from the former Blues youngster.

Gracia said: “I think he (Chalobah) played really well. In the moment they [were losing 2-0] I made the substitution, but I think he played really well and it wasn’t easy because he went a long time without playing. But in my opinion it was a very good performance.”

Following his return to Premier League action, Chalobah thanked the fans from both clubs for their supprt via social media.