Flores: Ighalo won’t leave in January, but after, who knows?

Odion Ighalo: In fine form for Watford this season

Quique Sanchez Flores believes Watford are ready to fend off any January offers for star striker Odion Ighalo – but admits he doesn’t know what will happen next summer.

Hornets boss Flores hailed Ighalo as “completely clever” for staying with Watford in the summer, after going on to fire 12 goals in 17 Premier League appearances.

The 26-year-old’s brace sunk Liverpool in Sunday’s 3-0 win at Vicarage Road, leaving Watford toasting four consecutive top-flight victories for the first time since 1987.

Watford’s Spanish boss Flores remains confident Ighalo will stay at Vicarage Road until the end of the season, even though his top form will doubtless attract a string of suitors.

“I think Ighalo is completely clever, he chose five months ago the option to stay here with Watford,” said Flores.

“He chose to stay here because he imagined something special for him.

“It’s very clever, he knew perfectly it was the best option for him.

“I think he’ll finish the season with Watford, after that anybody knows.

“We have amazing strikers, but we have the facility to score every single match because we create attempts.

“I admire these players because we create a plan, then they supersede the expectation I create before the match.”

Captain Troy Deeney and strike partner Ighalo terrorised Liverpool’s hapless defence in north London on Sunday, the Reds unable to contain Watford’s in-form duo.

Both table-toppers Leicester and high-riding Watford have made a success in reviving the out-of-vogue 4-4-2 formation this term.

Watford manager Flores revealed the key to fielding two strikers revolves around challenging both front men to drop into a regimented cordon in defence.

“If you are playing with two strikers separate to the rest of the players it’s very difficult to stop other teams,” said Flores.

“If you’re playing 30 to 35 matches with fewer players when defending then you can tire.

“So that’s the key: when we are playing with two strikers and we have the ball we have a lot of possibilities, for good football, counter-attacking or playing long ball out of defence.

“But when we don’t have the ball they come back with the rest of the players and form a compact block.

“For us it’s necessary to be defending with all our players.”

Watford’s eighth win of the season lifts the Hornets to within just one point of the Premier League’s coveted top four, but Flores is refusing to change his pre-season expectations.

The former Getafe manager continues to target 40 points to ensure top-flight survival.

“No, it would be a very big mistake to change our thinking,” said Flores.

“It’s not clever: no, no, no. We have to keep the continuity.

“The idea in the club is very clear.

“We’re just thinking about the need to grow.

“We need to establish ourselves in the Premier League, this is what we need.

“We are evolving with this idea, so to lose perspective would be very bad for us.”