Team News: Fulham
Watch Javi Gracia's press conference above, or read on below.
By Kevin Affleck
Javi Gracia is preparing for the visit of Fulham tomorrow night without the services of Isaac Success and Adalberto Peñaranda after they joined Tom Cleverley on the injured list.
Success and Peñaranda could have been the shake-up for selection if the Head Coach decides to rest some of his regular starters ahead of the FA Cup semi-final, but the pair, who played so well together at Granada in the first half of 2016, have been ruled out.
“This moment we have Tom Cleverley, Peñaranda and Success out of the team,” said Gracia. “They are not available. Isaac played the last game, but he picked up a knock in his knee and is not ready to play in this moment. Peñaranda felt something in his hamstring and is not available. Isaac will be ready for the next game [against Wolves]. Peñaranda and Cleverley, I am not sure when they will be ready.”
Daryl Janmaat is fine, however. He came off at Old Trafford just after half-time, running straight down the tunnel as he felt unwell, but he trained this morning and is available to play.
Gracia made five changes for the game at Old Trafford on Saturday, swapping the entire back four and the goalkeeper. It will be fascinating to see how many, if any, tweaks he makes to face Fulham with just five days to go before the big one at Wembley.
“I think the best way to prepare for that important game we play on Sunday is to try and win the next game,” he said. “That’s the best way to respect the FA Cup and to respect the Premier League as well. I will choose the players I want but I am always thinking about the best formation and the best line-up to win the next game. In this moment, I am only focused on the next game. After Fulham, we have five days to prepare. It was more difficult to prepare for this game after only a couple of days since Manchester. We try to always keep the same mentality.”
Gracia left key defenders Craig Cathcart and José Holebas on the bench at Old Trafford and left Adrian Mariappa at home, like he did at the Etihad Stadium ahead of the quarter-final. However, Troy Deeney and Gerard Deulofeu were on the bench at the Etihad but started at Old Trafford, proving just how difficult it is to second guess the Spaniard when it comes to team selection.
“You never know what is better,” he said. “We have to play a game in a couple of days and my decision will be different. But after FA Cup, the next Premier League game is against Arsenal on Monday and we play Huddersfield five days later. It is the same time between this one and the FA Cup semi-final. We have time to prepare. I know some players are coming back from international break, like Craig Cathcart who have played more games. I think all my players are ready to play all the games in the future.”
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Buy online at tickets.watfordfc.com, over the phone on 01923 223023 or in person at the Ticket Office, and arrive as early as possible on Tuesday to collect your ticket!