Ismaila Sarr was “nowhere near” ready to return to the Watford starting XI in the 3-0 defeat at Manchester United but Nigel Pearson is hoping the winger will take confidence from his substitute appearance at Old Trafford.

The Senegal winger has been out of action for a month with a hamstring injury and the Hornets head coach had suggested in the build-up to the game that it would be touch and go whether he would be fit enough to be involved.

The 21-year-old ultimately made his return as a 69th-minute replacement for Roberto Pereyra, but there was no place in the match-day 18 for Kiko Femenia, despite him also returning to full training this week.

“Nowhere near, he wasn’t close [to starting],” Pearson said of Sarr, “and likewise Kiko. In his position especially, no, so that’s why neither of them started.

“Sarr was always somebody we felt maybe able to give us around 20 minutes in the game after having discussions with the medical staff.

“Some people might even argue that at the stage where he went on, is it a risk? Well maybe it is but I think he actually did okay when we went on and hopefully some exposure today will give him the confidence to go out and play next week if he has a good week of training.”