Head coach Valerien Ismael has called on Watford supporters to “give the young players love” as he and his side attempt to win for the first time since January 14.

The Hornets have not tasted success in their last five league and cup games, and have failed to find the net in three.

Ismael said the home defeat against Cardiff a week ago was a big blow, and urged the fans to get behind a squad that has a large proportion of youngsters.

“It’s clear that the Cardiff game we were not happy with the result and there was big, big frustration,” he reflected.

“But our big problem this season has been the consistency.

“We need to understand where we are. We’re still in a transition period this season.

“We have made some great games, and everyone got the feeling there is something in this team.

“Secondly, we needed to implement a new mentality and a new philosophy, so we did that as well.

“We are working with young players, and when you look at the games we have lost we still have players on the pitch who are 19, 20, 21, 22.

“Players of that age need love. I think that if we continue to give the players love we will grow and they will give back to the fans a lot of joy.

“This is the main message I want to say to everyone: we have to stay patient, we’re still in the race but the players need to grow in those situations.

“We will do it. Even for me, that consistency to win is something we are missing.

“The consistency in performance, we are able to perform. But sometimes you see we have recently had to play without Jamal Lewis, Ken Sema and Edo Kayembe.

“Even without those players, for two or three games we were able to not notice a difference.

“And sometimes, when the schedule gets tough, you need your senior players. You do miss them.

“So those players are coming back. As a manager I know Jamal in the closest to playing 90 minutes, Ken will maybe need more time to play 90. Edo is coming back, Jeremy Ngakia the same.

“I need to build those players, we need to play with a strong team to compete at our best.

“So the young players have stepped in, bridged the time and given their best.

“It is easy to criticise the team right now and yes, we are not happy with the results.

“But give the young players love, help them to grow and they will give you the rewards.”

The mentality and philosophy that Ismael refers to have engendered a much-improved team spirit, but has that taken a knock in recent weeks?

“I would be lying if I said no,” admitted the Watford boss.

“It’s clear, even for myself. Cardiff was a big disappointment and the second half at Southampton was the same.

“But we have some explanations why we are in those situations.

“What I love is the reaction of the players. They tell the truth, they say when they are not happy but they also know what they have to do.

“They still come in with smiles on their faces, there is no negativity around the training ground.

“All the work we put into building a trust and a foundation is there, and now we are able to have some conflict and discuss some points we are not happy with.

“We can tell the truth and we know the players will react well to that and say ‘yes that’s right’ and then get ready to go again.”