Watford manager Nigel Pearson opted not to publicly criticise Andre Gray, Nathaniel Chalobah or Domingos Quina, after the trio were dropped from his squad after attending a party over the weekend.
Videos posted by Gray on Twitter and Instagram - which have since been deleted - appeared to show the three players at a lively get-together on the weekend of Gray's 29th birthday.
Mass gatherings are still banned as part of England's lockdown restrictions, and after the trio were criticised for breaching regulations, a brief statement went up on their social media prior to their match against Southampton which seemingly outlined Pearson's feelings on the matter.
? TEAM NEWS ?— Watford Football Club (@WatfordFC) June 28, 2020
Andre Gray, Nathaniel Chalobah and Domingos Quina have all been omitted from the squad by Nigel Pearson to ensure the health & safety of all players, staff and officials at today’s game.#WATSOU pic.twitter.com/OfDqbM9yeN
The club confirmed the manager had dropped all three players from the squad to 'ensure the health and safety of all players, staff and officials' at the Vicarage Road clash, which Watford went on to lose 3-1.
Pearson's actions often speak louder than his words, and that's just as well in this case, because his words didn't shed light on anything. According to various reporters who attended the post-match press conference, Pearson refused to be drawn into speculation on the matter, indicating he would be waiting for the facts before commenting further.
Nigel Pearson refused to comment on Andre Gray, Domingos Quina and Nathaniel Chalobah until he knows more information about the incident. #watfordfc— WD18 (@WD18Fans) June 28, 2020
What the boss didn't mince his words on was the performance of his team, who were left perched perilously above the relegation zone after a Danny Ings-inspired Saints ran riot. The Hornets have taken just one point from three games since returning from hiatus, and sit just a point clear of safety, having played a game more than three of the four teams below them.
"Again, we made too many unforced errors and made mistakes for the goals and gave ourselves far too much to do and it's disappointing for sure," Pearson said, as quoted by the Watford Observer.
"I'm looking more at the performance [than Craig Dawson's penalty claim] and what happened to put us in the situation that we're in today, and that is again fighting for our lives because we've not found the performance levels that I would expect from us."