Watford’s young Brazilian striker Joao Pedro will be given a chance to make his mark sooner rather than later, according to assistant coach Craig Shakespeare.

With the games coming thick and fast since the Premier League returned after more than three months away due to the coronavirus outbreak, squad strength has never been more important and Shakespeare knows he will have to rely on all of his players in order for Watford to navigate their way through the difficult period and come out with their top flight status still intact.

The 18-year-old’s involvement has been limited so far, but Shakespeare is well aware that the Hornets have a talented player on their hands and said he would not rule out the player making a big impact in the remainder of the season.

“He’s looked very sharp in training I have to say,” said Shakespeare. “I think he’s benefited from settling in when he first came. He’s done a lot of work in the gym on his upper body, but also then we can see as an attacking threat, he’s worked harder in terms of his movement and directness and so yes, he could have an impact. But thankfully what we’ve done is we’ve got him fitter, sharper and he’s looking more of the part now.

Asked if the youngster would have to wait until next season to be given a chance, Shakespeare said: “I wouldn’t write him out now because as you say I think they all are ready and when they get their opportunity for whatever reason, whether it’s a loss of form from someone in their position or an injury in their position, or they get a chance from the bench if they’re not going to start. Whenever that opportunity comes along, they have to be ready and take that chance.

“Because of the condensed nature of the nine games, I think I’ll be amazed to see people play the same team week in, week out. We’ve already seen most of the teams have rotated, if not for the second (game) they will for the third. But I think it depends on results and momentum and also I think about your squad and depth and saying, ‘have we got like for like? Have we got that? Do we need to change the shape of the team?’ All of those will come into the questions of a coach for the next game.”

One player who has been playing well for Watford is midfielder Will Hughes, whose performance against Leicester City caught the eye in particular.

Shakespeare said Hughes should have ambitions to represent his country in the near future.

“I thought he was outstanding again on Saturday,” said the assistant coach.

“I think he’s got potential to get even better and I know he got in the Derby team as a young player and now he’s established himself as a fully-grown Premier League player that should have international ambitions.

“That’s not to say that I’m putting pressure on his shoulders, no. I think it’s one of them where I think he’s that good. I think we’re really pleased to have him in our team and again he’s another one that is contributing to the team. We’re very pleased with Will’s contribution.”