Malky Mackay believes centre back Dale Bennett now looks ready for the Championship after “lacking experience” in the past.

Bennett came into the Hornets’ starting XI in September and kept two clean sheets in the three matches he played but then had to wait until January to make his next substitute appearance.

Injuries have seen the 20-year-old start Watford’s last three matches and the centre back shone in the 1-1 draws with Preston North End and West Bromwich Albion and he was dominant in the air as the Hornets kept their first clean sheet in 13 matches against Plymouth Argyle.

Hornets boss Mackay said: “I think with Dale his attitude is without question, he has been playing very well for the Reserves. He is young, he is very strong and incredibly quick.

“What he has been lacking is experience and learning from the game and that comes and it is coming more and more all the time and that is why he was put in the team a couple of weeks ago.

“He is now looking like someone who deserves to be in at this level and his experience will continue to grow whether he is playing or on the bench in and around the first team.”

Saturday was Watford’s first clean sheet since the 2-0 victory over Bristol City at the beginning of February and Mackay described the back five as “immense”.

He said: “To limit Plymouth to as few attempts as that and I also think back to Monday when West Brom had one attempt on our goal and they are one of the most cavalier, high-flying teams in the division.

“I think Dale Bennett, Jay, DeMerit, Aidy Mariappa and Lee Hodson today were outstanding and they belie their age. Dale Bennett was immense again today.”