Nathaniel Chalobah was replaced during the second half of Watford’s 3-2 defeat to Everton due to a back spasm, revealed Nigel Pearson, who defended the substitutions he made after the break.

The midfielder was replaced by Danny Welbeck just short of the hour mark, as the head coach switched to a 4-4-2 formation with the home side still trying to recover the first-half impetus that had seen them open up a two-goal lead, only to be pegged back before the interval.

“He had back spasms in the first half,” Pearson said of Chalobah’s substitution. “At half-time we were unclear if he was going to go on. I think it would be stating the obvious that when you decide to change your shape and go to 4-4-2 I don’t think you’re going to leave a player on who's been struggling in the first half.

“It was not a reflection on his performance by any means. You’ve just got to make a decision at that time that fits the circumstances.”

Pearson also brought on Isaac Success and Ignacio Pussetto as the Hornets pushed for a winner following Fabian Delph’s sending off, only to be punished on the counter-attack by Theo Walccott’s late winner.

The head coach said: “I don’t really have any regrets about the changes we made to try and shift the momentum in the game because I felt we were unable to regain enough composure and enough rhythm in the second half in possession.

“I give them [Everton] some credit as well for that, they pressed us pretty well themselves, we didn’t quite find the levels that we were looking for again maybe that’s still a bit of a reflection on us not quite recovering from conceding two goals late in the first half.

“I think it’s more important to try to make positive decisions when we’ve had a setback in a game which gives us trouble to get our rhythm back. I would rather people be questioning making positive decisions rather than being negative. I think this football club has had too much of that this season.”

Asked previously if he felt his side had been naïve pushing for a winning goal, only to get caught out in a three-on-three situation against ten men Pearson responded: “You could argue that but we still had an opportunity to clear the ball. It didn’t really have to get to the halfway line but it did. It’s one of those things I’m afraid.

“I’m happy for our players to be man for man, I don’t always think there’s a necessity to have spare men, I expect our defenders to be able to deal with a man-for-man situation.

“We felt it was important to try and force a winning goal if we could but, for sure, we should keep the back door locked and we didn’t do that today.”