Exclusive Blog with Watford & Northern Ireland defender Craig Cathcart

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Before setting off for international duty, Stake spoke to Watford & Northern Ireland defender Craig Cathcart who gave us the latest from the camp at Vicarage Road.

We were looking to round off before the international break with a win, but we'll still come back in really good heart before a big derby game away at Luton.

With Tom Cleverley out, I’ve been captain again since I’ve been back in the side and I really don’t mind the extra responsibility.

I think people might get the impression I’m a bit quiet but I’m loud enough on the pitch.

I’m also one of those who believes in setting really high standards with everything you do at the training ground and on matchdays.

Actions speak louder than words so you’ve got to be careful you don’t go shouting and hollering too much away from the match and then not back it up on the pitch.

The boys did well against Birmingham last week. It was one of those games we all really wanted after the disappointing result at QPR on the Saturday.

It gave us something to get our teeth into straight away and I thought a lot of our play was really solid and progressive – especially in the first half.

Birmingham had a spell just after half-time when they probably should have got at least one goal back, but by that time I think we could and maybe should have been three or four ahead with the game out of sight.

Maybe if we’d made our first-half dominance pay a bit more than the two goals we scored, they don’t come out after the break with any real hope.

Playing in the middle of a back three is something a bit new to me – despite having played in all sorts of formations over the years.

When I’ve been in a three, I’ve usually ended up on one side or the other.

It’s good news as far as I’m concerned; I think if you ask any centre-half they’d say the middle of the three is a favourable position.

There’s a chance to step out and play a bit, but the way the gaffer’s got us working it feels like the onus is more on the lads either side of me – Ryan [Porteous] and Wes [Hoedt] – to really step forward and back up the play.

It just needs a bit of intelligence from other lads around to make sure we’re covered, but that’s not hard to organise if you’re familiar with the shape.

With any formation, it’s about finding a balance.

We needed the win against Birmingham, no doubt about it. We’ve spoken over the season about having some consistency and it’s never really happened.

We’ve got no time to waste now, so this really does have to be the start of some kind of decent run for us if we’re going to give ourselves a decent shot at making the Play-Offs.

It’s all very tight above us, so nothing’s going to be decided just yet.

We’ve been slow starters in too many games this season, so it felt like a big change to start the match on the front foot and really take a hold of things with those early goals.

I don’t blame the fans for being pretty frustrated with too many ups and downs this season with the results, but we’ve got to put all of that to one side now because there’s not enough time to do anything other than focus on what’s ahead of us.

We’re still something of a scalp in the Championship, I believe, so teams coming here with our decent pitch and the way the stadium looks really smart now, I think they take that as something of an incentive.

We now have the international break and I’m really pleased to be joining up with Northern Ireland because Michael O’Neill is back in charge.

He managed the country for eight years while I was playing and I’ve got a huge amount of respect for him as a character and the tactical ability he brings to making our country’s team the best it can be.

We were really competitive under him, what with getting to tournaments and Play-Offs, so there’s no reason we can’t start back on the road to that happening again.

There’s six or seven other lads away with their country, but when we come back you can be sure we'll be ready for the Luton game.