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‘Everyone is playing well, not only Dennis’ – Watford’s Ranieri demands more from Nigeria striker

09:48 GMT+3 15/12/2021
Watford coach Claudio Ranieri and Emmanuel Dennis of Nigeria.
The Italian manager urged the Super Eagle to turn his impressive displays to vital wins as they travel to face the Clarets at Turf Moor

Watford manager Claudio Ranieri has expressed his happiness at the performance of striker Emmanuel Dennis but demanded the player to help the team defensively during matches.

The 24-year-old Nigeria international has been the star player for the Hornets this campaign as he has managed to score seven goals and produced five assists in 15 appearances in the Premier League.

Dennis, who joined Watford from Club Brugge at the start of the season, is currently the team’s leading scorer after notching his seventh goal of the season against Brentford in the 2-1 defeat.

Speaking ahead of the team’s top-flight fixture against Burnley at Turf Moor on Wednesday, the 70-year-old singled out the Super Eagle for praise but insisted his impressive display should be turned into vital points.

“Everyone is playing well, not only Dennis,” Ranieri said as quoted by the club’s official website.

“I am happy because we make lots of chances to score goals. Of course, we have to improve our defensive way because when I say the defensive line, I don’t just mean the defence – everyone must be involved to stop the opponent.

“I tell all my players every time that we play to win, but it’s also important that they don’t lose. That is my philosophy. Every match you don’t know what is going to happen so you have to fight to win, but you have to be intelligent that when you can’t win, you don’t lose. We have to be like ice men on the pitch.

“I have to speak with the players and say that there is another battle. We are playing well and we are doing very good to create chances to score goals, but we need to improve our situation defensively.

“We have our philosophy and Burnley have their philosophy. We know very well what Burnley will do and we are working to try to create chances to score goals and save our goal.”

Dennis is among the players Watford will have to do without when the Africa Cup of Nations finals star in Cameroon from January 9 to February 6.

Watford star Ismaila Sarr is expected to be in Senegal's squad for the Afcon finals, but his club teammate and Nigeria star Oghenekaro Etebo is an injury doubt for the continental tournament.