Having adopted a very obvious safety-first approach when visiting league leaders Leicester on Saturday, Watford head coach Valerien Ismael said he would look to use tonight’s home game with Norwich to strike a balance between caution and all-out attack.

The Canaries have won their last two games but a run of five without victory before that means manager David Wagner is still under pressure, although his side are two points and two places above the Hornets in the table.

However with all four games after tonight against teams in the top eight, the need for victory this evening comes even more sharply into focus.

“When you are at home in a game then it is clear you have to try and take that advantage,” said Ismael.

“A lot depends on the opponent and the situation. I can remember after the game at Sunderland, we had been conceding a lot of goals so as manager you have to find a solution for the team.

“It seems that now we are more stable, we aren’t conceding a lot of goals from open play. At Leicester it was a set piece and a long ball that led to a penalty.

“It’s just shown that at the minute it has been more suitable for our team to have that confidence. If you look, you will see we are making less mistakes in our build-up play.

“I think the key thing is to find right balance at any time.”

Ben Hamer is expected come in for his second Championship game of the season as captain Dan Bachmann is suspended after being sent off for two bookable offences at Leicester on Saturday.

Francisco Sierralta is back to full fitness, and fellow defender Mattie Pollock returns to the squad having been ill at the weekend.

The only long-term absentee is Jeremy Ngakia, who will be out for a couple of months after undergoing surgery on a stress fracture of his ankle.

While Saturday wasn’t a pretty watch – and to some attempting to grind out a point anywhere shows a limit on the club’s ambitions – for 45 minutes Watford looked capable of frustrating the Foxes.

The second half was a different story though with the home team pushing the Hornets further and further back until finally scoring what looked an inevitable goal with 15 minutes left.

“From the start of the second half to the first goal we did not implement the game plan we spoke about,” Ismael admitted.

“We said at half time we wanted to be more brave with the ball, and to compete so we make sure that when the opponent has the ball they still think we can make something happen.

“In our development with the team, what we did was not enough to compete with our opponent over the 90 minutes, but we can take positives from the game such as our stability, our organisation, the togetherness.

“It’s all about bravery. We have the quality, the players have ambition to play at a higher level – but to do that when you have the ball you must show your quality, express yourself and enjoy the game.”

As the second half wore on, Watford appeared to be crying out for fresh legs on the flanks with Tom Ince looming particularly tired.

However, Yaser Asprilla and Matheus Martins were only brought on with five minutes left.

“I think we can always discuss these things, but Saturday was more of a brain game, a tactical game,” said the Watford boss.

“We know that is a strength with Incey, that tactical ability and his understanding of the way that we want to press.

“He controlled his side in the second half for sure, but I think the game dictates your changes because we wanted to stay stable.

“Going 1-0 down changed everything and with the changes we did find our second wind, and maybe we should have scored at the end with Porteous.

“It’s just, at some points, you having a feeling for the game. Changes at any time can be dangerous for you and on Saturday the situation in the second half dictated our changes.”

It was also a surprise to see midfield general Jake Livermore replaced little more than 10 minutes into the second half.

“It was wanting to put a more dynamic player in the middle to make sure we did our best to stop the pressure from our opponents,” Ismael explained.

“We wanted a more box-to-box No.8, and I thought it worked well.

“Tactically I like to be flexible in our game, and in that part of the match we didn’t want to just accept what the opponents did.

“We wanted to try and score a goal as well.”