Craig Dawson’s professionalism was praised after Quique Sanchez Flores revealed the Hornets centre-half came close to missing the 3-0 defeat to Burnley due to illness.

The centre-half had produced a strong display but his involvement in the game was ended at the end of the first half due to a cut above his eye, having taken a blow to the face for a second time.

Dawson’s departure meant Watford were forced into an injury-enforced first-half substitution for the sixth match running, but Sanchez Flores explained the former West Bromwich Albion had been a doubt right up until kick off.

“It’s incredible,” the Hornets head coach said. “Six consecutive matches losing players in the first half, it’s not normal.

“Dawson was leading the defensive line, he was playing really well, but he made an amazing effort that people need to know because he was really dizzy this morning, he was really bad with his stomach before the match.

“We had doubts about putting him in the first XI and everyone should know how professional this player is. He was the best man in the defence in the first half with all these kind of problems.”

However, Sanchez Flores refused to blame losing Dawson when the game was still 0-0 as the reason why his side lost He added: “I think it’s not about how we lost Dawson, it’s about the effect the first goal had. We got into the dressing room at half-time thinking we should probably go ahead and they score. That’s the big difference.”

The Hornets head coach’s pre-match planning had already suffered a blow with Daryl Janmaat joining the casualty list.

“Yesterday he was okay and last night he has a problem with the knee. It’s swollen,” Sanchez Flores explained before adding pointedly “it’s fighting against the elements”.