Tom Cleverley banked another 45 minutes of pre-season action as a largely Under-21 Watford XI drew 0-0 with Hitchin Town at Pilot Field.

The newly-appointed club captain certainly covered some yards in the first half and threw himself into a few whole-hearted challenges and aerial duals.

Indeed he forced a decent save from Canaries keeper Charlie Horlock in the 26th minute with a low drive from the edge of the box, and then three minutes before the break he curled a shot on the turn just over the bar.

“It’s exactly what I needed,” Cleverley said after the game. “Hitchin have given us a decent game and made it physically tough for me and that’s just what I need right now.

“It was just a small calf issue that I picked up at the start of pre-season that kept me out. It’s meant I’ve not had an ideal pre-season and that’s exactly why I’m here tonight, gaining some valuable minutes.”

The 45 minutes tonight followed a 30-minute run-out against Southampton on Saturday, and Cleverley is far from concerned about any time he has lost.

“I think in the Marco Silva season I missed three weeks of pre-season and then started that season flying, so I’m not worried by it at all,” he said.

“It is frustrating when you can’t get involved like you want to, but I’m fortunate enough to be a naturally fit person. I’m also sensible and I know that the older you get the more you have to look after your body. So I’ve been patient and tonight I’ve got just what I needed out of the game.”

There was also a first-half run-out for striker Ashley Fletcher who is now back at the club after his loan in America. Everything points to him being on the move and this 45 minutes was a chance for him to keep ticking over.

He’ll know he should have scored though: sent clear from a ball over the top on the half hour, Fletcher steadied himself, drew the keeper but then saw Horlock deflect his attempted dink over him away to safety.

The Hornets hit the bar after 40 minutes, Fletcher’s low ball across the six-yard box was met by Shaq Forde but his effort rose quickly and clipped the woodwork on its was over the top.

The second half was far less eventful and was punctuated by a series of substitutions.

The Hornets’ second-half keeper, Alfie Marriott, had to backpedal quickly five minutes from the end when Hitchin’s Kye Tearle tried an audacious lob from 40 yards, and the last action of the game saw sub Christos Betzelis break through the Hitchin defence but lift his effort over the keeper and the goal.

Watford XI: Roberts, Abbott, Morris, Triallist 1, Triallist 2, Holding, Forde, Cleverley, Fletcher, Triallist 3, Mebude. Subs: Marriott, Blake, Grieves, Davis, Adeyemo, Betzelis.