Watford need Senegal's Afcon winner Sarr back in squad badly – Hodgson

Ismaila Sarr Watford Premier LeagueGetty

Watford manager Roy Hodgson has admitted they are in dire need of the services of winger Ismaila Sarr after he helped Senegal to lift the Africa Cup of Nations title in Cameroon.

The 23-year-old was handed his first start at Afcon by coach Aliou Cisse in the final against Egypt and the Lions of Teranga went on to clinch their first-ever title after downing the Pharaohs 4-2 on penalties.

The former England manager, who will be taking charge of his second game since joining the Hornets when they visit London Stadium to face West Ham United on Tuesday, has stated his eagerness to see Sarr back in training with the rest of the team.

“It was a very great achievement for Senegal to win the tournament for the first time. I was really happy for Ismaila [Sarr], really happy for Senegal, and really happy for another ex-player of mine in Cheikhou [Kouyate],” Hodgson told the club’s social media pages.

“It was great to see them win, but now we do badly need Ismaila back with us to help us win, so I'm hoping they'll be able to get him back as soon as possible because the earlier we can count on him playing in our team the better.”

With Sarr set to return and Nigeria striker Emmanuel Dennis also available for selection after missing the team’s 0-0 draw against Burnley at Turf Moor owing to injury, Hodgson believes the Hornets can be flexible and cater to both players in various formations.

“We’re not wedded to 4-4-2, we’re not wedded to the way we went about the job against Burnley, we just felt that to get the result against Burnley we needed that type of compact shape,” Hodgson explained as quoted by the club’s official website.

“We played a lot of 4-3-3 at Crystal Palace, it might well turn out that with the players here 4-3-3 might turn out to be a better formation for us than the 4-4-2 we went with the other day, and we might even find ourselves playing 4-5-1 sometimes.

“The thing I will be least anxious to change is a back four because we have some very good full-backs at the club. It won’t affect our principles; the way I shall be asking people to work defensively in a 4-3-3 won’t change from what I was asking for the other night and the same goes for going forward.

“I’m looking forward to seeing Ismaila and working with him; I've seen Emmanuel in training and I’m looking forward to seeing him in the game.”

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Sarr could not feature for Senegal in the group phase matches in Cameroon after he was forced to travel to Spain to see a knee specialist.

He, however, returned to Cameroon after recovering and came on as a substitute in the quarter-final against Equatorial Guinea where he scored one goal as Senegal won 3-1.