Nigel Pearson has urged his players to try and ignore the “sterile” atmosphere when they play in front of an empty Vicarage Road against Leicester City on Saturday, and to do all they can to deal with the “unusual circumstances” they find themselves in.

The Hornets have a tough game against their head coach’s former side, who are pushing hard for a Champions League spot this season, and are in need of points to move themselves away from the dangers of the relegation zone.

Whether or not the lack of supporters will have a detrimental effect on the team is not worth thinking about, claims Pearson, who is only interested in his side navigating their way to top-flight survival.

“I’m not wasting a great deal of time and energy going through an argument that actually no longer has any relevance,” Pearson said about empty stadiums.

“What we’ve got to do is just deal with the situation and the situation is that our stadium is going to be the same as every other stadium – no supporters, which is a real shame. Let’s be honest, this game is for the supporters and what we’ve got to do is try and negotiate this period, while it’s not possible [to have supporters in stadiums] to keep our status in the Premier League.

“I can’t waste any energy on thinking about other things – my job and our job is preparing the players, who have been excellent in getting on with and being very resilient in dealing with, a set of circumstances which aren’t necessarily ideal.

“We’re playing at home, we’re playing against a very good side, it would be nice to have our own fans here but they’re not, so it’s how you’re able to deal with the situation and hopefully our players will be able to isolate all the emotional side of it and just deal with the sterile environment.”

While some teams have experimented with fake crowd noises to try and artificially produce an atmosphere in the stadiums, Pearson said he is against “forcing” it in such a way.

He insists the players know that the fans are behind them and said that was clear to see from the way both the club and the supporters came together to support one another during the pandemic.

“We’re not overly keen on all this – I can’t stand American comedy shows with canned laughter – we don’t really intend to be trying to create some sort of an environment where there is a forced atmosphere,” he said.

“We have to deal with our own situation and know that our fans are actually very much behind us. We know that anyway, we’re a club that has an identity in the community and I think how the club has supported the local community during the pandemic has been very very good.

“All I’m saying is, we just deal with the situation as it transpires, as it develops, but every club is in the same situation, we’ve got to just try and win as many games as possible and deal with what is an unusual set of circumstances.”

Switching his focus to matters on the field, Pearson is aware that there could be greater potential for injuries due to the short preparation time and the hectic schedule his players will have to adhere to.

One player, Isaac Success, has already picked up an injury, rupturing his achilles during training, and will join Gerard Deulofeu and Daryl Janmaat in missing the rest of the campaign.

“Soft tissue injuries are something that we’re all slightly concerned about,” he said. “It’s up to us to be aware of what the risks are.”