June 18, 2020 / 5:38 PM / 22 days ago

My focus is Watford's Premier League survival, says Pearson

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Crystal Palace v Watford - Selhurst Park, London, Britain - March 7, 2020 Watford manager Nigel Pearson before the match Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

(Reuters) - Watford manager Nigel Pearson says he has fond memories of managing Saturday’s opponents Leicester City but has no time to dwell on nostalgia as he prepares to lead his new team’s Premier League survival bid.

Pearson had two stints at Leicester, leading them to Premier League promotion in 2014 as second-tier champions before he was sacked after a season in the top flight. The club went on to win their maiden Premier League title the following season.

Leicester are third in the standings under Brendan Rodgers while Watford, who climbed out of the relegation zone after Pearson took charge in December, sit 17th ahead of their first game since the season restarted.

“Leicester have had a very good season so far, they’re a stable football club with a manager with a lot of ambition and ability,” Pearson told reporters.

“They have talented individuals and are a very effective team as well. Where they are in the league speaks volumes. (But) at the moment my absolute focus is on trying to retain our (Premier League) status.

“I spent two spells as manager at Leicester and had success in both periods and enjoyed my time there. I’ve got a lot of respect for that club... and I know my place in the story.”

Pearson said striker Troy Deeney would be available for the match even though he refused to train last month over fears of contracting the coronavirus.

“He’s a dad and husband and it’s his job to put his family first,” Pearson said.

Pearson confirmed Isaac Success will not be available after rupturing his Achilles in training while Gerard Deulofeu and Daryl Janmaat are out for the rest of the season with long-term injuries.

Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond

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