First Team 04/04/2019

FA Cup Team News: Wolverhampton Wanderers

Watch Javi Gracia's pre-match press conference above, or read on below.

By Kevin Affleck

Javi Gracia is confident Roberto Pereyra will be fit to take his place in the Watford side for the FA Cup semi-final with Wolves at Wembley on Sunday.

The Argentine schemer was taken off as a precaution at half-time against Fulham on Tuesday night and he has not trained since. However, the Head Coach has not given up hope that the 28-year-old, who scored that wondrous goal at Molineux in October, will win the race to be fit and take his place on the left-hand side of midfield.

“In this moment, we have Tom Cleverley, Isaac Success, Adalberto Peñaranda and Roberto Pereyra not training with the team,” said Gracia. “They [Pereyra and Success] will train tomorrow and we will see. They are doubts. Pereyra felt some pain but I think he can be ready for the next game. Cleverley is out and I don’t know how much time [he will need]. In the next days it is not possible for him to play.”

Femenía played further forward after Gracia's half-time changes against Fulham

The 28-year-old has scored seven goals this season and been a real source of creativity, most notably at West Ham where he won the penalty and then deliciously set-up the second for Gerard Deulofeu. 

“Roberto Pereyra is an important player for us,” said Gracia. “I think he will be ready for the next game. If he is not available I have other players ready, waiting for the chance to play.”

Whether Foster replaces Gomes for the first time in the FA Cup this season will be a bone of contention

Gracia has at least three decisions to make when it comes to selection: one about who plays at right-back, secondly who partners Troy Deeney in attack, and thirdly who plays in goal. Heurelho Gomes has played in every round, conceding just one goal but Ben Foster has been in imperious form this season.

“I don’t know the worst keeper of the three,” said Gracia. “I don’t say who is going to play but, you know, it is not a problem to choose the goalkeeper because we have three good goalkeepers. All of three of the goalkeepers are playing well.”

Gray is pushing for a start after a series of match-winning substitute appearances

Andre Gray is pushing hard for a start. In fact, he’s knocking on the door so loudly it’s almost coming off its hinges. He has won the last four home games after coming off the bench and got a cracker in the fourth-round cup win at Newcastle.

“He is not only a good substitute – he has showed many times this season that he can start in the first XI,” said Gracia. “I remember the first four games we won in a row and he played from the beginning. I know he is an option. We’ll decide in the next day the best XI, but I’m always asked about changes and what players I will put in the first XI. I just always try to choose the best XI and this game is no different.”

Important information for supporters travelling to Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

First Team 04/04/2019

Holebas: “Football Is About Emotion”

José Holebas insists there is too much on the line at Wembley on Sunday to change his all-or-nothing approach.

The Greek defender picked up his 11th booking of the campaign in the closing stages of Watford’s eye-catching 4-1 home win over Fulham on Tuesday night when tangling with Ryan Sessegnon in the 90th minute.

Those cautions have, more often than not, come as a result of his committed and relentless playing style, which has earned the 34-year-old cult status among the Hornets faithful.

And Holebas is hoping that the Golden Boys can harness that same emotion and excitement when they face Wolves in the FA Cup semi-final on Sunday.

“I am always like this,” he said. “Throughout my whole career already I have been like this.  

 “[Just because it is Wembley] why do you have to step back? I don’t get it. It’s just a yellow card. If I get 20, I get 20.

“If you make a tackle or you start moaning that is emotion, that is football. That is what we are living for.

So, is the former Olympiakos and Roma full-back excited at the opportunity of reaching just the second FA Cup final in Watford’s history?

“No.” Classic Holebas.

“Of course I am. All the boys are excited now – they’ve worked so hard for it, to come so far in the Cup.

“It is a special game for us. It’s very important for the boys, for the team and for the club.

“The team that puts the most work into their game and on the day will win this match.

“Every competition is important, you can achieve something in your career with it and everyone is thinking about having [the Cup] in their hand.”

The ex-Greece international has had to share Cup duties with fellow left-back Adam Masina this season, but featured in the previous two rounds against first QPR then Crystal Palace.

But Holebas is relaxed over Javi Gracia’s team selection, and knows that whoever is called upon will be ready to help the team.

“It is the coach’s decision,” he added. “He has got his own plan, he has to know what he does, and I think he does really well in this moment.

“To be honest, I like how it is right now. We are having a really good season so far.

“[Wolves] are also doing really well, but the team that puts the most in is going to win and the boys are really ready for the game on Sunday.

“The team is really focused, and especially for this game.”

Important information for supporters travelling to Wembley Stadium on Sunday.