Belfast Telegraph

Walter Mazzarri hoping for cure to Watford's current problems on treatment table

Walter Mazzarri believes the solutions to Watford's current problems can be found on the treatment table rather than in the transfer window.

The Hornets lost for the seventh time in 10 matches when defeated 2-0 by Stoke at the bet365 Stadium on Tuesday night and fears of another slump in the second half of the season, such as the one they suffered last year, has intensified the pressure on Italian head coach Mazzarri.

The former Inter Milan and Napoli boss insists their run of form is unavoidable given their plethora of injuries and expects his current squad is good enough to prevent them from being dragged into the relegation mire.

Valon Behrami was forced off in the Potteries, where Isaac Success, Daryl Janmaat, Adrian Mariappa, Roberto Pereyra, Ben Watson, Stefano Okaka, Nordin Amrabat and Juan Camilo Zuniga all missed out.

With Amrabat and Adlene Guedioura now off to the African Nations Cup, the Hornets' skeletal squad needs reinforcements, though Mazzarri's faith remains with their current employees.

"The problem is that the January transfer market is not very easy," he stated.

"In 15 years of my (managerial) career I haven't had all these injuries in one season but we've got enough experience to get back and improve in the table.

"We will see what players come back and when they will come back. The important thing is also to get all the injured players back and recovered."

The extent of Watford's injury crisis meant Behrami started at Stoke despite coming off with a hamstring injury against Crystal Palace only eight days earlier.

The Swiss midfielder had missed out against Tottenham on Sunday and only lasted 45 minutes against Mark Hughes' men after appearing to aggravate the problem, with Mazzarri conceding he had taken a risk when selecting him.

" Since the total emergency we're in I took total responsibility for making Behrami play and we as a team all need players like him that will go on the pitch no matter what, and he gave a big contribution to the team," he added.

"Of course it was a gamble, it was my gamble and my decision, but this is something I had to do because we are in a total emergency."

Facing such a depleted foe at home provided the ideal opportunity for Stoke to end their poor end-of-year run.

Prior to Tuesday night they had gone five games without a win and had conceded four goals in each of the post-Christmas defeats to Liverpool and Chelsea, so an ugly victory that moved them back up to 11th was gratefully received by Hughes.

"We needed to get back on track," admitted Hughes, whose team won thanks to goals from Ryan Shawcross and Peter Crouch.

"It wasn't a great game in terms of the quality of both sides being able to produce but clearly we had more quality on the day because we've been able to take the game away from them.

"Arguably in recent weeks, although we've been beaten, we have probably played better.

"But the important thing is that we were able to get three points and a clean sheet because defensively we were giving too many goals away. That wasn't the case so that's pleasing."

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