Watford manager Roy Hodgson feels his squad have what it takes to secure their Premier League status (Adam Davy/PA)

Roy Hodgson admits “odds are stacked against” Watford on Anfield return

Watford boss Roy Hodgson has challenged his squad to continue showing the fighting spirit needed to battle their way to Premier League survival.

The Hornets sit three points from safety, but have played two matches more than Everton as the top-flight action resumes following the international break.

Having pulled off an unexpected 2-1 win at Southampton in their last match, Hodgson wants more of the same as his squad regroup for a daunting trip to title challengers Liverpool.

“If Watford survive this year, it will be partly because the players have shown themselves to be good enough, but it will be because the spirit is good and they have really wanted it,” Hodgson said.

“You can try to transmit spirit, but it has got to come from the group itself, they have got to accept it and build on it.

“If we do survive, it is because the spirit at the club has been very good.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, July 27, 2010: Liverpool FC's new signings Joe Cole, Danny Wilson and Milan Jovanovic with manager Roy Hodgson during a photo-call at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A trip to Anfield – where Hodgson was manager for only six months after taking over in the summer of 2010 – is hardly the most ideal place to expect to kickstart a survival bid.

Nevertheless, former England boss Hodgson, appointed to replace Claudio Ranieri at the end of January, feels his side just have to focus on their own performance.

“Every time you play a team like Liverpool away from home you know the odds are stacked against you,” Hodgson said at a press conference reported by the club.

“There is no secret to how good they are or why they are good, the quality of their players and the quality of their work.

“All we can do is hope that we are able to produce a performance on the day that will give us a result.”

WATFORD, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 29, 2020: Watford's Ismaïla Sarr during the FA Premier League match between Watford FC and Liverpool FC at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Watford had most of the first-team squad away on international duty, so will assess their options ahead of Saturday’s early kick-off at Anfield.

Defender Nicolas Nkoulou is set to be available after completing his recovery from a long-term hamstring injury.

“We always try to work on things in training, and it is a constant process of trying to improve the way we defend and attack,” Hodgson said.

“It has been good to have some time with the players in that respect, but we have had to accept that some of the players we would like to have involved have been away on international duty.

“Our players have come back from Africa, they have been with us today, but not in a position to train so we will only have tomorrow morning in terms of absolute preparation.

“But that is the same for everyone else – Liverpool will be in exactly the same position as we are.”