When a defender starts 114 consecutive league games then it goes without saying that he must have an exemplary disciplinary record but Adrian Mariappa has revealed his card count is even more impressive than you would think.

“Saturday was my first ever sending off, even including when I was playing Sunday football as a kid,” the centre back told the Watford Observer this week.

“I have never really gathered yellow cards either and I take pride in my disciplinary record. At the end of the day, you don’t want to be missing games because of suspensions.

“No one likes getting sent off because you feel like you are letting your team down, and I am no different, but I have to get past that now and look to the next game.”

Mariappa was sent off in the 88th minute of the 2-1 defeat to Middlesbrough for two yellow cards.

He could have few complaints about the second booking but the first seemed extremely harsh as he made very little contact with goalkeeper Paul Smith and seemed to pull out of the challenge.

The red card ended Mariappa’s impressive consecutive league starts record at 114 games, with Mariappa now fourth in the history books.

“It had to come to an end at some point and it is just one of those things,” Mariappa said.

“I wasn’t thinking too much about getting a run together at the beginning or anything like that. It was just about staying fit, keeping the performances high and trying to stay in the team.

“I will be out for the next game but then it is still the same, the team is the most important thing.

“The stats and things like that are great while they happen but it had to come to an end at some point.”

Such records are very uncommon in the modern era, particularly for outfield players, and Mariappa believes Watford’s medical and sports science teams deserve praise for their “very thorough” work.

The defender said: “They do not overload us with work and we do a lot of injury prevention work, which is why our injury record here is really good.

“There are a lot of players who have played a lot of games this year and stayed injury free and that is down to the work we do before training and the way we recover after games.

“The medical team and the sports science guys take great pride in their work and all the players take everything on board.”

Despite Saturday’s defeat at the Riverside, Watford are still only four points from the play-off places in ninth position.

But when asked whether the players are now talking about reaching the play-offs after surpassing the much-talked about 52-point mark, Mariappa replied: “We got into this position in the first place by taking it game by game and being competitive in each match and believing we can win each game.

“For the remaining eight games, there will be nothing different. We are capable of beating anyone in the league so it is just about trying to get a run together and then who knows where we can end up.”

He continued: “Everyone did write us off at the beginning of the season but we knew what a good squad we had and we showed that to a lot of people. We believe that we are good enough to compete with anyone in the league.

“All we can do is take it game by game, we are a young squad which is always learning and that is why we have improved on where we were last year.”