The new Watford interim head coach is only 34 – yet the first starting XI he picked had an average age 11 years younger than he is!

The Hornets team selected by Tom Cleverley had an average age of 23 years 306 days making it the youngest starting XI the club has fielded since a game against Coventry on April 2, 2011.

There were no thirty-somethings in the team at all, and goalkeeper Dan Bachmann was the oldest of the lot at 29.

“I didn’t consciously do that!” Cleverley smiled.

“We lost Jamal Lewis yesterday, and so James Morris stepped in and did fantastic.

“I think we had six Academy products in our travelling squad, which fills me with pride.

“Some of those young lads have really stepped up today, particularly a really young back four which has helped keep a clean sheet.

“I thought Pollock and Porteous were absolutely brilliant today, and then our goalkeeper when our defence was broken.

“Dan was called upon a few times – more times than I’d like – and it’s my job to try and organise things better.

“They were players I’ve played with, and I know they’re fighters and warriors and they really showed that today.

“I can’t praise the back four enough. Two Academy products, Mattie is another young English defender and Porteous was the old head of the four at 24!”

It was a young team but not a vintage performance: however for Cleverley, it was result first.

“The result was all that mattered today, not just for me personally but for the football club,” he said.

“It was a huge game today. We were starting to fall down and look over our shoulders.

“Hopefully this can bring the shackles off and let us finish the season in a positive way so that everyone is full of optimism for next season.”

With the international break, the Hornets are not in action until they host Leeds United in front of the Sky cameras on Good Friday evening (March 29).

“The break helps,” said the interim head coach.

“It’s a chance to get our messages across and work with the players, and have some time to really prepare for what is going to be a manic period.

“You come back and straight away go Friday/Monday.

“Then it’s three games in 10 days after that as well.

“I’m looking forward to this period now. We lose six players to international duty but I’m really excited for the week ahead.”