Quique Sanchez Flores admits he has a tough task in picking his side for the FA Cup fifth-round tie with Leeds United on Saturday.
The head coach has used the previous two rounds, both won by a single goal to nil, as an opportunity to play some fringe players and rest others. Etienne Capoue and Miguel Britos, for example, have not had any involvement in the run to the last 16 while Adlene Guedioura has played 90 minutes of both games.
Costel Pantilimon looks certain to play against Leeds United in place of Heurelho Gomes and it would be a surprise if Mario Suarez and Nordin Amrabat didn’t start a home game for the first time, but, apart from that, it is difficult to second guess Sanchez Flores, especially with the Hornets two wins away from a trip to Wembley.
“We now have to focus on the cup because we know the fans are dreaming about it,” he said. “I respect a lot, firstly, the players in my squad and why all the players deserve to play in the FA Cup. We have 25 players and we’re trying to put them all in the first XI. We can only use 14 maximum at the weekend and we have a lot of players training really well and they deserve to have the opportunity to show in the FA Cup they should play.”
Troy Deeney is also a certain starter, especially given the match is against the side the man he refers to as his father used to support.
“I got a bit of s*** for that [on social media],” said Deeney. “People have been giving me grief. [My dad] was a Leeds fan so that was the best draw for me. That or Man United away. I’m buzzing for it and hopefully I can score and we go through. I’ll have my family there and they will know what it means to me. They are a great team. They are not doing great but they still get 30,000 every week. I know the manager [Steve Evans] and I wish them all the best – just not for next week.”
Leeds play Middlesbrough tonight and will have only four full days to prepare for the tie at a packed Vicarage Road. They have sold out the away end.
“It will be a tough tie against a Leeds side that will be up for it,” Deeney told talkSPORT. “If we are not on our A game then Leeds will see us out. We are favourites and that’s tough, in front of an expectant crowd.”
• Additional reporting by Charlie Doris
Watford fans on the club’s current ticket database can buy tickets for the tie which kicks off at 3pm. Those with Fan IDs created on or before Saturday, January 30, 2016, can secure their seat by clicking HERE: