Although it's more than three months away, and the date could change, October 19 is in Tom Cleverley’s mind already.

That is the date when Watford are currently due to travel to face Luton at Kenilworth Road.

Cleverley was there on a truly awful afternoon near the end of the 2022/23 season when Chris Wilder’s side were totally out-played and got off lightly in only losing 2-0 to the Hatters.

However, he was also at Vicarage Road earlier that season when the Hornets, under Slaven Bilic, handed out an even more comprehensive 4-0 derby drubbing.

“The Watford/Luton derby is a game I played in, although unfortunately never in front of a crowd,” Cleverley recalled.

“That’s a little disappointment, as I would have liked to be on a pitch and experience the derby with fans in the ground.

“I was at the 4-0 home win but I was also at the away defeat that season, so I know how hostile it can be there.

“It’s one of the games you go to first when the fixtures come out, and it’s the game that I know means more to everyone inside and outside the club.

“My target is to ensure we go into both games as favourites, which will mean we are playing well.”

The fixtures handed Watford a tough first assignment of the season, as a trip to Millwall is daunting enough – and this time there will be an understandably increased surge of emotion as the Lions pay tribute to their goalkeeper Matija Sarkic, who died suddenly earlier this summer.

“It’ll be an emotional first day at Millwall with what happened with their goalkeeper, and that will be a moving game to be part of,” said Cleverley.

“But it’s a challenging first away game anyway, and any new players that arrive – as well as my coach Alberto Garrido – will need it explained to them the style to expect at Millwall.

“Then we have two good home games which we can get stuck in to, and after that when the fixtures came out I was looking at where the Luton games were.

“Then you see what’s happening either side of Christmas and if you’re at home on Boxing Day.”

Although two early away games have been moved for Sky coverage, Watford’s first four home games will be on Saturdays at 3pm.

“That’s good for the fans because there is a lot of concern about how many kick-off times are going to be moved,” Cleverley commented.

“I can’t imagine Sheffield United away being moved to a Sunday has helped any of our fans much though.

“I think the league will always give us three or four days between games, which makes things a bit easier, as does the fact we are getting much longer notice of when the Sky games will be.

“So even allowing for the changes, you can plan your schedules easily enough.

“I want to create an environment here that we find a solution, not an excuse. So there will be no excuses coming me from about the fixture list.”