Andre Gray is working hard to force his way into the Watford starting XI, says Javi Gracia.

Watford’s record £18.5 million signing has struggled during his first season with the Hornets and has been in and out of the Hornets side.

Gray has been handed a solitary start in the FA Cup under Gracia and has had to settle for three substitute appearances accounting for just 31 minutes in the league.

Gracia insists his absence from his preferred side is not due to a lack of effort on Gray’s part.

“I’m happy, with all of the strikers. I have to choose one striker, or other times two, and Andre is playing less than others,” he said.

“It is not because he is not working well, it’s because I have to choose. I don’t know what will happen in the next games, it is possible Andre will play more.”

Saturday’s win over Everton saw Gracia turn to Stefano Okaka when looking to turn the tide of the game and the burly forward made a big impression.

Gray remained on the bench, but Gracia says he has reacted well to seeing Okaka, a player who had previously been out of the squad, be brought on ahead of him.

“He has had a good reaction, he’s working hard and waiting for his opportunity and chance,” he said.

“I don’t know what he felt in this moment, maybe he’s sad because Okaka played before him. This decision is not for all the matches.

“All the situations are changing and you never know when your chance arrives.”

With Okaka and Troy Deeney both filling the role of powerhouse forward, Gray provides the genuine alternative of pace and the ability to run in behind.

Gracia says his style of management is not naturally more suited to Okaka and Deeney and that he makes decisions based on the state of play at any one time.

“I thought it was the best option, maybe in the next game I’ll do it with Troy, or Andre, or together,” he said.

“I am happy with all the strikers. If I wasn’t, I’d tell I choose this player because the others are not working in the best way.

“I don’t have in mind before or during a game that I am going to play this way. In every moment I try to see and decide what is better.”