Roy Hodgson has conceded that there is no way back for Watford now this season, with their relegation from the Premier League all but confirmed.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s trip to Crystal Palace, the 74-year-old said that the team now had to play for pride and to show that they are the right players to guide the Hornets back to the top flight at the first time of asking.

“The writing’s on the wall,” admitted Hodgson. “We would need more than a miracle to [avoid relegation] and I don’t think it’s correct even to start suggesting and giving people false hope.

“Unfortunately, our hope was in the three games, starting with Leeds and then Brentford and Burnley, we would get enough points to keep in touch with the fellow strugglers. We came close, In those games, I think we could honestly say it wouldn’t have been wrong if we’d have taken more points than we did from those games because we had our moments and we looked as though we were going to get the result we wanted, but we didn’t. 

“That’s put us in a position where we are, so we have to face up to that and it’s going to obviously be tough then for players now because we got four games to play and the players can’t really continue to look for that carrot, and that’s not easy.

“But on the other hand, so far in the games we’ve played, we’ve been competitive. I think we could have taken more points than we have done in plenty of games and they’ve got to show pride. They’ve got to show that they are a good team and they are good players and that the club can trust them next season to help them bounce back into the into the Premier League, which will be everybody’s goal.”

With a return to the Championship now inevitable, assessing the team’s shortcomings and working out where things went wrong this season is an important exercise, in order for the club to learn from their mistakes.

While Hodgson said it was difficult to pinpoint exactly where the blame ought to be apportioned, he did say that the team at his disposal had proven themselves not to be up to Premier League standards.

“That’s what’s been proven, unfortunately, because we’re just about to be relegated, so that is a fact of life,” he said. “Of course one can say they don’t think that’s particularly just, and they think we were better than that and they think that we could have stayed up, the team was good enough, the players were good enough, but you can say what you like. 

“The fact is that after 38 games, we won’t have enough points to stay in the league and ipso facto, we haven’t been good enough.”

Asked if he expected the team to bounce back at the first attempt, Hodgson provided an optimistic response.

“Absolutely,” he said. “The club is strong. There’s a lot of very good things at this club. I think there’s a big squad of players and we haven’t perhaps even seen the best of all of them. Maybe there’s a lot more to come. 

“I would be very surprised if I don’t see Watford among the front runners next season and I’m sure that the players themselves that have gone down with the club this season, they’re going to be very anxious to show that they can do better than that and can help the club back into the Premier League again like they’ve done before.”