Malky Mackay has praised the attitude of Piero Mingoia and Matthew Whichelow after both were awarded one-year professional deals, but has stressed the “hard work starts now” for the young midfielders.

The two second-year scholars have joined defenders Lee Hodson and Eddie Oshodi in graduating to the Hornets’ professional ranks from the Academy this year.

“Piero and Matty both have great attitudes and have shown on a consistent basis this year that they have a chance,” said the Watford boss.

“The hard work starts now though for them leading up to the summer – this coming pre-season is going to be very important to them.

“They’ve got to make sure that they come back extra fit, they’ll be in men’s football and they’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of them.

“Both have great attitudes and we’re looking forward to working with them with the first-team.”

However, the Hornets have decided not to keep on five other second-year scholars.

Defender Theo Angus, midfielders Kurtney Brooks and Cole Penny, striker Fabrice Otshudi and the versatile attack-minded Andy Yiadom will all be released at the end of their time with the Academy.

“It’s a difficult time when the youngsters are given their decisions,” said Mackay.

“It’s not an enjoyable thing to do but its one of these things that has to happen at football clubs.”

However, the Hornets manager stressed: “There is a full back-up system in place at Watford and our Academy staff will be doing everything they can to ensure they finish their education programmes, help with getting them trials and being flexible so the boys can train with other clubs.

“We made a commitment to these boys and we’ve got to help them get in every way we can.”