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In February of last year, we got the better of Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace with a 3-0 win at Selhurst Park, and tomorrow the former England boss is back in the dug out with Watford having left Palace at the end of last season.

He’s replaced Claudio Ranieri since Watford last played and has become their fifteenth permanent manager since Sean Dyche left Vicarage Road in the summer of 2012.

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The 74-year-old Hodgson, who has signed a contract until the end of the season, said ahead of tomorrow’s game. “The teams at the bottom are all a bit adrift from the middle so we’ve got a lot of ground t make up. This particular league, in terms of relegation, is a dogfight.

“We don’t underestimate the task, but I know the board don’t underestimate it either. They are realistic, know it’s a big fight but believe the club are good enough to be in the league and they entrust Ray Lewington and myself the task of trying to mould them into a team that will get points in the remaining eighteen games.”

He said of the squad he’s inherited: “I’ve been very happy with the response, their enthusiasm and their diligence. The work ethic is good and the spirit is fine. When it comes to ‘are you getting your message across?’ we’ll find out in the next weeks and games, but I’m not certain Ray and I could have done more in terms of presenting the type of thing we’d like to see. It’s going to take more than a week or eight, nine days before we’re going to look back and say we’re satisfied.

“It’s a fascinating challenge, there are good players at the club and I have seen that, but I also had six or seven months away. When this job came up I was never going to turn it down, it was the siren call of the mermaid going past the sailor’s ship.

“I’m excited about working with them all and pleased to be working with them. The response on the training field couldn’t have been better, in terms of people trying hard to impress us and do what they do as footballers. But the proof of the pudding is always in the eating. It’s going to be very important that the players react well to what they are asked to do and produce the level of performances that are necessary.”

It’s eight weeks since we last played a home league game. “It has been a long period of time since we last played at home in the league for various reasons,” Sean Dyche said. We are excited to be back.

“Now the fixtures are being rescheduled, the more we learn about them and the more we will see how the second half of the season will map out. We had some complications along the way. We are still not out of the woods with players missing. We are trying to get everyone back fit and ready to go.”

Going into a game against a team close to us in the table, he said: “We are very well aware of the game schedule and statistically the matches that you have a better chance of winning compared to others. However, like I say all the time, it is a season’s work, and it will always be that. We always say the next game is the most important and it doesn’t make or break the season.

“Of course, it would be a favourable result to win the game, that is quite obvious. Whatever happens, we have to make sure we remain focused and keep with the mentality we showed at Arsenal. We got back to basics at Arsenal against a very good team. We need to build on that game. We were very good defensively, but we now need to go and show we can attack well too in the game against Watford.”

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