Vladimir Ivic could be handed an injury boost ahead of games against Nottingham Forest and Cardiff City this week, with Tom Cleverley and Will Hughes both returning to team training.

The midfielders have been absent in recent weeks after suffering injury setbacks, but both are now working with Ivic and his first-team squad and could even be involved for the trip to the City Ground tomorrow evening.

The head coach is also expecting three unnamed players who have been isolating following positive Covid-19 tests to return to training in the coming days.

"Some of the players are starting to return to practise with us," said Ivic.

"Some of them still stay out. We don't want to speak about names but I believe in the next days things will be much better. I also expect that all these players who stay out for different reasons will be with us in the next few days. We will see today, in the last practise."

While the midfielders' return to training is good news, Ivic is cautious about how much he will use the players initially once they are available for selection.

With Andre Gray injuring his hamstring shortly after making a return to the team, the head coach is all too aware of the risk involved with returning players to the pitch.

"We know with Will Hughes, he's one of the best players who is here, one of the most important players," he said. "I know his quality, I know what he can give to the team, and for sure I'm not happy, because of this first three months that he's out of the team.

Watford Observer:

"You need to wait for the moment when he will be available to just start to play. I'm sure that when he will come back that he's a serious guy, he's a good player, he's a good character and he will help us.

"We have an example now with what's happened with Andre about his injury. He started the second game in a row and this is what's happened. I've talked a lot about that how we need to treat the players who come in after a long period injured.

"It's very important now this process when they come back after some injury to take care about them and to not push them a lot."

Another player who has also returned to training after a lengthy spell on the touchline is Adam Masina, who had initially not been scheduled to return until February.

However, Ivic is not expecting the full-back to feature his squad any time soon, despite him working with the team once again.

"Adam Masina will not be available in the next two weeks for sure," he said. "He started to work with us yesterday in the first practise after his injury what he had and I'm very happy.

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"We need to be smart, we need to manage them and to use them to come back to their maximum properly."

While the three players absent due to positive Covid tests are also expected back soon, Ivic is wary of thrusting them straight back into his starting lineup.

"If they will be ready for the game on Saturday or not, after 10 days, we will see," he said. "To be honest, I'm not sure because for some players to stay at home for 10 days and don't work and don't do something, they need some days to come back to the level to play the game.

"After 10 days without activity to put the player to play the game, first of all, you don't do good for the team, you don't do good for the player and you take a lot of risks to get this player."