David Moyes has said he is doing everything possible to get Lee Cattermole and Victor Anichebe back playing first team football, but has urged caution as they recover from long-term lay-offs.
Anichebe has been in America stepping up his rehab but returned to training last week, while Lee Cattermole has taken part in some behind closed doors games.
Moyes played down their chances of making an impact against Watford but added that he may be forced into a calculated risk in the near future.
He said: "They are not ready to play, and we also have to be careful of expecting too much of them.
"Sometimes you think ‘this is the answer’, only to feel disappointed if that doesn’t happen.
"But we need them both and that’s the risk and the gamble I have to weigh up.
"They’re coming back, they’re doing fine. Victor’s trained, he came back from America last weekend. I couldn’t turn around and say, he’s certainly not physically fit, but we need him. Lee Cattermole very much the same, he’s been out for nine months, it would be stupidity to think that he came back in and hit the ground running, but we need him as well.
"On some of them you do [take a risk], I’ve never been someone who wants to risk people with injury, it’s never been my style, I don’t want to do that, but sometimes there has to be a bit of selfishness for the club and also for myself.
"That’s why we sent Victor away and with Catts we’ve got him involved as quickly as we can, we’ve had a couple of practice games behind closer doors, we played the U23s. So we've tried to get people back quicker than what we would normally do but Lee had a bad injury that’s kept him out really since day one of the season. So to ask someone to come in at the start of April and make a difference, I think that’s a tough call and there shouldn’t be that pressure on Lee Cattermole."
Moyes did have positive news on the defensive front, the Sunderland boss likely to be able to call on his full cohort at the back.
Lamine Kone missed the Burnley game with a knee injury while John O'Shea was left needed stitches following a nasty challenge from Gareth Bale on international duty, but both are expected to be fit for the crucial game at Vicarage Road.
"We’ve got to be careful. Not having Catts isn’t the reason we’re in the position we’re in, important we don’t put too much pressure on him. But also, if I thought he was physically fit and able, he’d be someone I’d be considering playing"