Watford manager Claudio Ranieri has raised concerns over players and their vaccination status ahead of a crucial period in the Premier League season.
The Hornets face Brentford on Friday night after a tough run of games, which included title rivals Chelsea and Manchester City.
But with a busy festive period involving clubs around them in the league table, Ranieri knows that the game against Thomas Frank’s Brentford will certainly not be easy for his players. However, the Italian is confident they are ready for the fight.
“Every game in the Premier League is a tough match,” Ranieri said. “We know this match will be very tough because last season, we drew 1-1 at home and lost 2-0 away.
“Even during pre-season this year we lost 3-1. I know it will be a very tough match against Brentford, but we are ready.
“Brentford play very well, they are coached very well and are well organised, but so are we and we’re ready for the fight.
“My players are fantastic because they never give up but right now, we need to improve our defence.”
But with Tottenham Hotspur announcing that eight first-team players have come down with COVID-19, Watford boss Ranieri believes the Premier League will make the right decision with regards to player safety.
“The Premier League has made the right decision. We need to maintain a safe distance, along with doing the COVID tests and wearing masks. That’s also important.”
While this has led to Watford cancelling their Christmas party and the players being restricted to their homes and the training ground, Ranieri remains wary of the situation at hand.
“At the moment we are ok. But you know COVID can come from any situation.
“The most important thing is the players are vaccinated because right now we are playing every three days and we’ve met a lot of players. The vaccine is important because without it is a big risk and I hope everything at Watford continues to be ok.
“Of course I respect my players’ decision if they aren’t vaccinated, but they need to know that we all stay together and they could infect someone and then it’s important to have everyone vaccinated.”
A win for Watford would see the Hornets extend the gap to the relegation zone to six points, while Brentford could leapfrog Brighton and into ninth with victory at the Brentford Community Stadium.