While Watford’s squad and team may look very different next season, don’t expect the number of players to increase.

Valerien Ismael spent last summer trimming what was an overly large group down to a much thinner squad, but lack of numbers did cause some problems.

There was no left-footed cover for Wes Hoedt, while injuries to both Ryan Andrews and Jeremy Ngakia meant Tom Dele-Bashiru had to play at right back.

Nonetheless, Tom Cleverley is not intending to significantly increase the number of players.

“No, I think the squad size is good,” he said.

“The thing that has helped this year is that the injury record has been good. If you’re working on these numbers then you need to maintain that.

“I’m happy with the squad size, I think the numbers are good and I trust the pathway from Academy to first team to become stronger.

“I’m not saying those players are going to be ready for first-team football next season but certainly the year after, and we’re hoping the squad numbers can stay small because we trust our Academy products so much.

“So I think the squad size we have is a good number, and we just need to look at who we are sending out on loan because we have young players who need that loan experience.”

The season just gone saw Jack Grieves make his first start, both Albert Eames and Xavier Massiah-Edwards made their senior debuts, with Amin Nabizada and Leo Ramirez-Espain gaining experience of being on the bench.

“The young players from the Academy have to earn the right to be involved,” said Cleverley.

“But the first team will become a lot more accessible to them.

“Does that mean they just get given a chance? No, like I say, they’ll have to earn it.

“We know their profiles, and when they come into the squad it won’t just be to make up the numbers in training.

“We know exactly who they all are and where they fit into our system. They’ll have access to the platform to get into the first team, and then it’ll be up to them to take it.”

Whatever the incomings and outgoings are over the summer, it’s going to be very hard to have everyone in the building on day one of pre-season.

“Yeah it will be, because you don’t know who you’ll lose, you’ve got the Euros in the summer, there are a lot of variables," Cleverley said.

“Everyone sets out to do business early but it rarely works out like that.

“Everyone had Sunday off after the Middlesbrough game, but we were all back in on the Bank Holiday Monday working towards trying to get our business done early.

“But it’s not how the market works. Sometimes you have to wait for other clubs to do something, sometimes you have to wait to see if you lose a player.

“It’s never going to be the case where you’ve assembled the perfect squad by day one of pre-season.”