Football

Watford boss bemoans absence of Emmanuel Dennis for Southampton game

Watford goalscorer Emmanuel Dennis enjoyed linking up with Ismaïla Sarr in Saturday’s 3-2 win over Aston Villa, in a game the striker will remember “for all my life”.

Watford manager Claudio Ranieri has lamented that he will be without striker Emmanuel Dennis when they face Southampton in a Premier League fixture on Saturday.

The 23-year-old Nigeria international, who has enjoyed a good run of form since joining the Hornets from Club Brugge at the start of the season, will not be eligible to feature against the Saints at Vicarage Road owing to an accumulation of yellow cards.

Dennis has picked up five cards during matches against Tottenham Hotspur, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Newcastle United, Leeds United, and their last league game against Everton.

Against Everton, the Super Eagle came on as a second-half substitute with the Hornets trailing 2-1 but he turned the game in their favour as he set up two goals and scored one to help his side win 5-2 at Goodison Park.

Ahead of the battle against the Saints, the 70-year-old Italian manager has confessed he will miss the striker, who has so far scored three goals from nine appearances in the top-flight.

“I will miss Dennis, but I’m sure whoever plays in his position for him can do very well,” Ranieri told the club’s official website.

“I said well done to Joshua [King], not for the hat-trick but how he played. Very well! He held the ball, he gave time to his teammates to come and close every action.

“Joao [Pedro], I like him a lot. He is young, has lots of skills and I think slowly he can come directly into the first team and play lots of matches.”

Ranieri, who has overseen two matches since taking charge, has further explained his decision to substitute Senegal international Ismaila Sarr during the game against Everton.

“I think Ismaila understood my substitution. I spoke with him, and I think he will be very, very motivated in the next match,” Ranieri continued.

“At the moment Cucho [Hernandez] is working very well and in training sessions, every time he shoots he scores goals. He has goals in his blood.”

Ranieri is confident the team will give fans something to cheer at home having lost their last fixture 5-0 against Liverpool at Vicarage Road.

“I think we played so badly against Liverpool and very well against Everton, now I want to see the next match against Southampton,” he explained.

“They are a very tough team, they press together, they are all together and we must be very intelligent to play against them.”

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