09/02/2018

Team News | West Ham

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Javi Gracia has vowed to again make maximum use of the resources at his disposal after reporting none of his injured players are in line to make a return this weekend.

Gracia only had 17 fit players to choose from on Monday night and had to pluck Joy Mukena from the Under-23 team just to name 18 players on the teamsheet against Chelsea.

Although Miguel Britos is back in training, the weekend's game with West Ham will come too early in the recovery of the Uruguayan who has been out since the away game with Newcastle in December.

He will join Christian Kabasele, Craig Cathcart, Younes Kaboul, Tom Cleverley, Heurelho Gomes, Will Hughes, Kiko Femenia, Jerome Sinclair and Nathaniel Chalobah on the list of players unavailable to the Head Coach.

“I think we are in the same situation as the last game,” said Gracia.

“We have 17 players available and we need one Under-23 player. This week Britos is back is training with the team but not available yet. Maybe today he completes the session with the team. In the next sessions maybe other players come back. I hope Kiko, I hope Hughes and Gomes is training next week maybe.”

Craig Cathcart is also thought to be close to return to training while Troy Deeney had to be monitored this week. “He had a problem with his ankle this week and today he trains with the team,” said Gracia.

Kabasele and Cleverley both picked up hamstring injuries in the goalless draw at Stoke. “Kabasele will be out more time,” said Gracia. “Tom Cleverley, I'm not sure. I hope he is back soon.”

Gracia, though, is not grumbling about the injury situation. He is just getting on with it and using his skills as a coach to coax the best out of the players he has to work with.

“I wish these players come back soon but this is our situation and I focus on the players I have available,” said Gracia. “I try to get good results with the players we have.

“I try to take advantage of our all resources with 17 players try to make a good balance. I don't have many problems with 18 players to choose every game. We will see in the future what happens when we have more possibilities.”

First Team 09/02/2018

Gracia | “The Way To The Future”

Watch the full pre-match press conference above free, no sign-up required. 

Javi Gracia was not dining out on the thrilling victory against Chelsea when he spoke to the press this morning. His feet were very much planted on the floor and he feels there is work to be done yet. And plenty of it.

“It was a great game but it's the past now,” he said.

“We try to be focused on the next game against West Ham and that's the best way to get a good result. It will be a difficult game. We played well against 11 and against 10 [against Chelsea] and I think we deserved the victory. We got that victory by running a lot, working a lot - that is the key, the way to the future.”

Much is made of the win Gracia choreographed over all-conquering Barcelona in 2015 but just as significant is the way they followed it up with a 3-2 win in their next game against the less-heralded Getafe. It showed Gracia doesn't let his players get carried away with themselves and allow them to think they've cracked it.

“We can win, we can lose every game but what I try in this moment is to give us motivation, give us more belief in our work and this is better for us," he said. "We know if we don't work or run a lot we don't win.”

Gerard Deulofeu, Abdoulaye Doucoure and the rejuvenated Etienne Capoue were singled out for their starring roles in the win over Chelsea but, for Gracia, it was all about the collective, about the whole being greater than the sum of its individual parts.

“We got the result in the last match because we played like a team, because we won like a team,” he said. “I don't like to speak about individuals but, of course, some players played to a high level.”

Doucoure has, for the umpteenth time, been linked this week with a move away from Vicarage Road, this time to Tottenham Hotspur. Asked he felt the midfielder would be tempted away by one of the big boys, Gracia gave a brilliant answer.

“He's in a big club in Watford and I wish and hope he will be with us for many times,” he said.

Gracia has already shown in his brief tenure that he's not afraid of making the big calls, that he didn't think twice about substituting Richarlison, the boy wonder from Brazil, in the last two games. Richarlison was pictured looking emotional on the bench, a sign of just how much he cares.

“I didn't see him in that moment but I spoke with him yesterday and he explained to me he wanted to play more times, to play better, to score goals but he accept my decision and I tried to explain it was a very big risk to stay on the bench as he had a yellow card,” said Gracia.

“The referee spoke with him and I had to take a difficult decision as he was playing really well but the team needed a change.“

The Head Coach showed his tactical acumen in that moment and then his man-management side this week after the Football Association took a closer look at Troy Deeney's celebration following the penalty he rammed past Thibaut Courtois.

“I spoke with him and all the players every day about all the situations, not especially about that. Troy is our captain, he knows what is the best behaviour and I'm sure he will do better in the future.”