Watford manager Xisco has hailed centre back Francisco Sierralta, labelling the defender a ‘key player’ for the Hornets.

Sierralta moved to Vicarage Road from Udinese in the summer transfer window, in a move that was very much in the Pozzo special handbook.

He struggled to impose himself at the beginning of the season but has been a regular under Xisco since his arrival at the club, with 13 appearances in all competitions so far.

Indeed, the Chilean has not missed a game since midway through December, playing 90 minutes in all but two of the club’s ten games since then.

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He’s impressed as well, earning rave reviews from Watford fans for his performances in the heart of their defence, and it seems his manager is similarly impressed.

“I am very happy with Sierralta; he is at a very high level. He is a key player for us,” he told the Chilean edition of AS.

“I only have good words towards him. He is an important boy, and I hope he continues with the same strength, energy, desire and performances. 

“He’s very Chilean. I say this because he is ambitious, a fighter and a worker.

“He is a boy who is committed to the cause, has a lot of will, has quality in the game and wins aerial duels.

 “He has the character of the Chilean. I played in Betis with Mark González and I had Juan Delgado when I directed the Nástic de Tarragona, so I say that for something.”

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The aim for Sierralta is to remain a key player for Watford between now and the end of the season, and hopefully help the club push for promotion.

The Hornets currently sit fourth in the table, with Xisco having picked up 14 points from his eight games in charge in the Championship so far.

The current gap between them and second placed Norwich stands at seven points, while a further two separate them for leaders Brentford.

That’s not an insurmountable gap by any means and the Watford boss says there’s no reason his side can’t be in contention for a swift return to the Premier League.

“The Championship is complicated, it is a very tough league,” he added.

“It is played every three days and you cannot have a very long bad time. We are in a process of growth, building new ideas.

“The goal is to move up, but we are clear that it is difficult. We are willing to work until the last minute to achieve this.

“We will do our best. Physically and emotionally you have to be strong to be able to ascend.”