Andre Gray has told Watford under no circumstances should they sell Ismaila Sarr or Troy Deeney this season, if they have any realistic hopes of achieving promotion back to the Premier League.

The striker spoke passionately about his two teammates, describing Sarr as “a beast” and labelling him Watford’s Lionel Messi while insisting that the two players are vital to a return to the top flight.

Liverpool, Manchester United and Crystal Palace all registered genuine interest in Sarr during the transfer window, while club captain Deeney was also the subject of speculation, but Gray believes players like that are too important to let go in a season where returning to the Premier League is the taregt.

“The proof’s in the pudding with Isma,” said Gray. “He’s a beast, simple as that. He’ll win us more games than than you can imagine. Even if he’s not scoring or assisting, if anyone watches games and understands football, they will understand the effect that he brings to the game.

“He’s a game winner, even when we’re not playing that well, he’s like our Messi. He is one of them players that you just give him the ball, and just let him do what he’s doing.

Watford Observer:

“We’re gonna have a lot of problems with the club if if they let him go in January because of the effect that he has and if the club are really serious about getting promoted then he’s the person that we need. Beyond that, I’m sure clubs are going to come in, regardless.

“Obviously, the politics in football is a bit strange and whatever but if we’re serious about getting promoted, then, we need to keep him.

“[With Troy] it is the same argument, we have with Isma. If we’re serious about getting promoted then we need to keep Troy as well.

“He’s played in this league, he’s got promoted in this league, he’s scored 20-odd goals in this league and being genuinely honest, we have the best team in the league. That’s a fact.

“We have proven players in the Championship that have been promoted, so we need those kind of people around the squad, because it’s not easy. And a lot of the young boys are starting to get that now that we’re gonna have games where it’s horrible and it’s ugly, but it’s a winning mentality that we need.

“So people like Troy is what we need in the in the club if you want to get promoted. If we’re serious about getting promoted and the club is serious about getting promoted back to the Premier League then these are the players that we need.”

Gray hopes that with his proven record in the Championship, he too can make himself a valuable asset in the team.

He picked up his first goal for the team in the win over Coventry City, almost a year to the day after his last goal, in the 2-0 away win against Norwich last season.

Psychologically, the striker claims it was an important moment for him, but knows he may take some time to adjust after spending a long time out with injury.

“It was massive,” said Gray. “It was my first start in just under a year, so it’s always good to get a goal, but at the end of the day it was about the win. That was what we needed. We didn’t play particularly well, but we won the game and that was most important.

Watford Observer:

“I was very rusty. But this is what happens when you’re injured for a long time, it takes time to get your match fitness and your legs are telling you to do one thing while your brain’s telling you to do different and it’s hard to connect them when you, when you come back from such a long injury.

“I was happy to get the goal, it was a big weight off my shoulders just putting the ball in the net again, but it’s not gonna happen overnight, so I just need to keep working now and try and get my sharpness back and just kick on from here now.

“I’m proven in this league, for two seasons I’ve proved myself and I feel like I’m a better player than I was then. My game’s grown, my mentality has grown.

“But I’m not going to sit there and and boast about what I can do, I’d rather just let the football do the talking."