With the removal of Ismael Kone from the starting line-up at Huddersfield, Watford have now punished as many players for poor timekeeping this season as they have wins in the Championship.

Kone started the game at the John Smith’s Stadium on the bench as punishment for arriving late at the training ground on Friday.

He follows Imran Louza, Ben Hamer and Tom Dele-Bashiru in being publicly admonished for breaking rules that they, the players, had agreed among themselves and signed up to.

It’s perhaps interesting to note that with a fully available squad to pick from on Saturday, Louza was on the bench and didn’t come on while Dele-Bashiru didn’t even make the 20-man matchday squad.

Head coach Valerien Ismal explained that while he is prepared to give his players some latitude if they are late because of matters beyond their control, he won’t accept oversleeping as a defence.

“Kone was 20 minutes late reporting for training on Friday,” explained the Watford boss.

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“When my players are late, they come to me first and explain why they are late. Sometimes it can happen, like when you are in traffic.

“But sometimes when you hear the explanation, you have to say that I have no other possibility than to take the decision like I did here.

“When the player didn’t wake up and didn’t hear his alarm, then I have to say sorry but the other guys are all ready to train, they have all been punctual.

“So that was the reason. Normally he would have started the game, so he dropped to the bench.”

Ismael stressed that he understands any journey to London Colney can be affected by the vagaries of the English roads – but what he can’t accept is when players are late leaving their homes.

“It happens, with traffic, you might be a few minutes late. That is not the problem,” he said.

“The problem I have is when that’s not the case. It’s when players are half an hour late without good explanation, or 20 minutes late because they didn’t hear the alarm.

“When we have a team meeting and the players are already on site, and they still turn up late, then that is not acceptable.”

Kone had been in good form before the game at Huddersfield and started the previous two fixtures, but Watford’s rules meant a player who would have been in the starting XI spent the first 67 minutes of the game sat in the dug-out.

“They are punishing the team and themselves, because we don’t want to be taking good players out of the team,” said Ismael.

“But they are forcing us to take these decisions. They need to understand that it will be done. If you do it with your national team it will be exactly the same.

“We have a clear line, and even though sometimes it is painful to take the decision, I have to do it.”

The problem is, the punishments already handed out don’t seem to be a deterrent for others.

The rest of the squad don’t seem to be quick learners or – and perhaps most worryingly – the prospect of losing their place in the team/squad doesn’t bother them sufficiently to make sure they get up and out of the house a bit earlier to avoid any risk.

“We have 20 players who are always punctual, and they have always been on time from day one. I want to focus on them,” said the head coach.

“The others need to learn.

“This is a problem with old habits. In the last five months we have tried to create new habits, and that is clearly going to take time.”