Watford legend John Barnes has told the Hornets not to let their best players be picked up by Premier League clubs if they have any hope of getting promoted this season.

Watford stood firm in the face of interest in Ismaila Sarr from Manchester United, who are now understood to have cooled their interest, but Barnes knows there could still be interest to fend off before the domestic transfer window closes next week.

While the former England international knows it is unlikely the Hornets will be able to replace the recently departed Danny Welbeck with anyone from the top flight, he believes stopping players going the other way could be key to their success.

“To be honest, most relegated clubs would struggle to bring a premier league player down to championship level," he said. "That’s the nature of the game. In Watford’s case, I don’t think it’s so much about replacing Welbeck but more about making sure they hold on to the players they currently have. Watford has a strong squad so as long as they can hold on to them that should allow them to be real contestants for promotion.”

Watford Observer:

Asked for an early assessment of Watford's chances, with two wins, a draw and a defeat from their opening four league matches, Barnes said it is too early to tell, but thinks the lack of supporters in stadiums will make things more difficult.

He also said it is too early to tell whether or not Vladimir Ivic is a good fit for the side, but thinks the club need to show him more patience than he feels they gave other coaches in the past.

“It’s obviously difficult to say whether a club may or may not get promoted at the end of the season when they’ve only played a few games," said Barnes. "However, I do believe that Watford have what it takes to get back to the Premier League next year. But I do believe it’ll be a tough season for all teams this year due to Covid and the lack of fans watching the games live. Finishing off last season without the fans present was one thing, but to continue to play for empty stands will be hard.

“It’s tricky to say too much about Vladimir Ivic as he’s only just started. But, he has a reputation for being demanding which is exactly what Watford need right now if they’re serious about going for promotion. But equally, it’s his first time in England so he needs to adapt pretty quickly; especially with a club such as Watford that hasn’t got a reputation for being very patient with managers.

“It’ll come down to whether they’ll be able to re-create that all important team spirit and play consistently. Championship is a difficult league so now is the time to put the hard work in.

“And of course there’ll be ups and downs but one would hope that the Club gives Ivic a proper change and show him some patience, considering what happened to Nigel Pearson last season, as that was a very strange and bizarre decision that was taken.”

Quotes courtesy of BonusCodeBets.co.uk