Pearson: “There Are Lessons To Be Learned”
Nigel Pearson was not looking for excuses after a young Hornets side surrendered their lead to draw with Tranmere Rovers, but insisted he had no regrets in resting first-team players as the focus stays on remaining in the top flight.
“The Premier League is our priority and I have no qualms about it. It was never my intention to do anything other than protect the squad and to look after what we need to do for the Premier League – it’s as simple as that and we can’t afford not to,” said the Head Coach.
“Unfortunately for us, the FA Cup is not the priority. If we were in a more comfortable situation and had more players available [then it could be], but we don’t and at the minute we’ve got a quite a lengthy injury list.
“We can’t afford as a football club to put ourselves into a situation where we go into the league programme with even fewer players available. I’ve got to make decisions based on what’s right for our season.”
Pearson’s game plan was not helped by injuries to players at key times. He would not have liked to withdraw Nathaniel Chalobah – the most experienced member of the midfield trio – at half-time but a groin injury gave him little choice.
During the second half his hand was forced twice more, with both Domingos Quina and Bayli Spencer-Adams withdrawing due to cramp.
“I think whenever you’re making changes within a game, they’ve got to be based on what the side needs, but sometimes you get forced into making changes during the 90, 95 minutes and that’s what we had today,” he said.
“We had to try and find answers to questions we weren’t necessarily expecting. I would have expected us to see it through, but when you have an injury at half-time and then two players come off because they’ve got cramp, it just shows you the situation that we find ourselves in.
“There are lessons to be learned and it was good experience for those youngsters but hopefully the take home message for them will be that they’ve done alright today, but they also need to not just be technically good enough, but physically good enough as well”
If today was about taking a closer look at fringe members of the squad, Pearson certainly learned a lot, and the fact remains that the Hornets are still in the cup and some of these players will have a chance to make amends in just over a week’s time at Prenton Park.
“It’s disappointing that we have to replay the tie, but I would rather replay it than not be in it. It’s one of those things, football is always going to surprise us but it also gives us lessons in terms of never taking anything for granted,” he said.
“I’m not happy with the fact that we’ve not seen the job through, but I’m also very realistic about what’s happened today, so you’ve got to give them [Tranmere] credit.
“I’m disappointed but I’m also in a position where I can say I’ve learned quite a bit about players today as well and that’s really important too.”