Watford are using the services of specialist set-piece coach Gianni Vio.

The 70-year-old Italian, who has previously been part of his country’s national team coaching set-up, has been working with Valerien Ismael, his staff and players for several weeks, with the arrangement set to continue.

Vio was part of Antonio Conte’s staff while he was Tottenham manager, staying with the North London club while both Cristian Stellini and Ryan Mason were in temporary charge.

He left Spurs when Ange Postecoglou took over in the summer.

He has worked in England before, at Brentford between 2015 and 2016, and then at Leeds in 2018 and 2019.

Vio has often worked with former Italy and Inter Milan goalkeeper Walter Zenga, when he has been in charge at clubs such as Catania, Palermo and Cagliari.

He also worked alongside another legend of Italian football, Filippo Inzaghi, when he was manager of AC Milan during the 2014/15 season.

The Italian is a former banker-turned-coach who spent much of his time in the lower leagues in Italy before making the jump into Serie A.

That in turn led to him working in England and he gained even wider recognition after helping the Azzurri win Euro 2020.

Vio spent more than 20 years studying the numerous variations in free-kick routines and has reportedly designed nearly 5,000 different routines.

He even launched a website on his findings and released a book called That Extra 30 Per Cent, the title of which refers to “how much set pieces can improve a team’s goal tally”, as he once said.

It was during his time at Catania, where he was hired by Zenga in 2008, that Vio earned the nickname 'the little wizard' as 17 of the team's 44 goals that season were scored from set-plays as they avoided relegation to Serie B.

In a 2021 interview with Italian publication La Nuova de Venezia, Vio said: “You need to analyse the players you have and find solutions tailor-made to their skillset. There are players whose reading of the game is special.

“At the highest level, Sergio Ramos comes to mind. Wherever you put the ball, you can bet he’ll find a way to get on the end of it. Timing is the most important thing when it comes to finishing off a set-piece."

When Vio joined Spurs in summer 2022, they scored nine goals from corners in the first 13 games of the season.

If Watford fans want to try and spot the Vio touch at Preston on Saturday, his routines usually aim to create an element of uncertainty among defences.

He likes to have players exchanging positions just before the kick is taken, while another tactic he deploys is for the attacking side to build their own walls at free-kicks, often taking up an offside position before dispersing, creating confusion among the defence.