Watford drop players against Southampton for flouting rules

English Premier League strugglers Watford said yesterday that three players had been removed from last night's matchday squad against Southampton to protect "the health and safety of all players, staff and officials".

Andre Gray, Nathaniel Chalobah and Domingos Quina were not part of Nigel Pearson's 20-man squad.

The action by the club came after Gray posted a series of videos on social media of a large gathering to celebrate his 29th birthday last Friday.

Quina, 20, was seen in the videos as a group played football in Gray's garden.

Gatherings in gardens and outdoor spaces with people from different households are currently restricted to six people due to rules aimed at stopping the spread of Covid-19 in England.

"Watford are aware of social media posts which suggest two players contravened government lockdown protocols," the club said in a statement, adding that they will investigate the matter.

Watford sank further into relegation trouble last night after losing 3-1 to the Saints, who scored through James Ward-Prowse and a Danny Ings double. The Hornets are just one point clear of the drop zone, but have played a game more. - AFP