FA Cup Team News: Crystal Palace
Watch Javi Gracia's pre-match press conference above, or read on below.
By Kevin Affleck
Javi Gracia faces the biggest selection call of his reign as Head Coach when he has to choose the squad to take on Crystal Palace in the FA Cup quarter-final at Vicarage Road.
Gracia reports yet again he has a fully-fit squad to choose from, as Miguel Britos has recovered from the slight problem he picked up late on at the Etihad Stadium, and he now has to decide which eight players to leave out of the last-eight clash and then the XI to start the game.
“It is difficult as I have all the squad ready and fit,” said Gracia. “I have to decide and suffer, and it is not easy to take these decisions. It’s my job. I always decide thinking what is the best for the team. We have lots of options and all of them are high-quality players.”
Gracia has used the full depth of his squad in this season’s competition. He made 11 changes against Woking and Newcastle and then five against Queens Park Rangers. The only players not to have played any part in this season’s FA Cup run are Gerard Deulofeu, Roberto Pereyra, Sebastian Prödl, Pontus Dahlberg and Ben Foster.
Heurelho Gomes and Miguel Britos are the only two players to have played every minute so far and Gracia was not giving anything away as to whether their unbroken run would continue against the Eagles.
“You know I never say my first XI [before the game] and today is not an exception,” Gracia said. “It is something I'll decide before the game. Miguel felt some pain in his leg [at Manchester City] and next day he was well. He needed a couple of days to be ready. Everyone knows how important Heurelho Gomes is for me and the club. He is ready, like the rest of the players. He is a good option but I will decide.”
Who Gracia plays in goal will be his biggest decision. Foster has been arguably the Player of the Season and produced one of the displays of the campaign at Brighton, but Gomes has not conceded a goal in this season's competition and was superb amid an aerial assault against Queens Park Rangers in the last round. He missed out on the quarter-final tie in 2016 as Quique Sanchez Flores picked Costel Pantilimon against Arsenal.
“I have three good goalkeepers,” said Gracia. “Ben Foster is very good, Heurelho is very good and Pontus Dahlberg is as well. In different moments they are all very, very good. Heurelho is a very good player, a very good person and I’m sure he will be important if he is playing or not.”