Gerard Lavin believes that Watford will qualify for the Europa League in the near future provided that they don’t succumb to relegation this year.

Since its foundation 139 years ago, Watford have managed to qualify for a European competition only once, and it came in 1983-1984 when they progressed all the way to the third round of the UEFA Cup.

But the long wait could soon be over according to Lavin, who thinks that his former side is only a couple of transfers away from finally booking a ticket to Europe.

“Watford have great players all over the squad because they've got the money to buy them," he said. "But they have also spent the money wisely in recent years, by signing international players.

“If you compare Watford to other clubs they are still relatively small, especially the capacity of the stadium.

“But they are a top, top team and club now.

“So can Watford qualify for the Europa League? It’s a possibility, yes.

“This season it will be difficult but if they do stay up, which I probably would expect them to now and then spend money in the summer and regroup, they can give it a go next season, absolutely.”

Watford had found themselves in the doldrums at the start of the season, first under Javi Gracia and then Quique Sanchez Flores, but they swiftly turned the corner and climbed off the bottom of the table courtesy of an upturn in both performance and fortune following Nigel Pearson’s appointment in December.

However, in the last game before the enforced Premier League break in March, Crystal Palace turned the screw on Watford with a 1-0 victory, which came on the back of a scintillating 3-0 home win over Liverpool.

In the weeks before that, Watford slumped to defeats against against Everton and Manchester United, with a draw against Brighton in between.

This has led to suggestions that Pearson’s effect is already wearing off, with old problems such as statuesque defending and a lack of cutting edge having suddenly resurfaced.

Pearson will face his former club for the first time tomorrow since getting the sack in June 2015 and Lavin believes he has enough to steer the Hornets to safety.

“I think it’s difficult to say if Watford are going to stay up for sure but whoever gets off to the best start will do it," he said.

"And Watford have got the players to do it. There’s also a real togetherness in the team.

“I don’t necessarily believe Pearson’s honeymoon period has ended and does end. They can keep going.

“I am confident because they have the players and quality to stay up. Bringing in Pearson has galvanized the team.”

Watford have only won four matches in 14 outings at Vicarage Road this term, losing five and drawing as many times in the process.

All the remaining games will be played behind closed doors until the end of the season to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and, taking into account the club’s poor home form, the lack of crowd can actually be a blessing in disguise, according to Lavin.

“It is a ten-game season and there are going to be no supporters," he added.

"I think that for clubs like Watford that were struggling at home in front of their own supporters because of the pressure, now they are not gonna have that pressure anymore."