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Troy Deeney: ‘I thought Pantilimon had been stitched up again in the FA Cup’

Troy Deeney has shed further light on the chaos and confusion surrounding the goalkeeping situation in the minutes before Watford ran out to play Arsenal in the quarter-final of the FA Cup.

Quique Sanchez Flores has already explained how Costel Pantilimon only found out he was lining up in goal against the Gunners just before kick-off due to a mistake the head coach made when displaying the team on the board in the meeting room at the team hotel.

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However, Deeney, who usually hands the teamsheet in along with Dean Austin, revealed the panic in the dressing room at the Emirates stadium prior to the biggest game of the season.

“We knew the team the day before so we trained with Pantilimon in goal,” explained the captain on this morning’s Soccer AM. “We got to the stadium, the keepers go out early and the teams got called out [over the tannoy]. [We hear] Gomes is in goal. I thought: ‘Oh, perhaps he’s changed his mind as Pantilimon was in goal.’ I felt bad for Pantilimon as he got dropped for the FA Cup final [in 2013] so I’m thinking: ‘He’s been stitched up again here.’

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“Then we get in the changing room and the gaffer goes to Pantilimon: ‘When you get it clip it out to Troy and he’ll win it in the air.’ We said: ‘Gomes is playing, isn’t he?’ He’s like: ‘No, no. Panty is playing.’

“This is about 40-50 seconds before we go out to play. We are like: ‘Who is in goal?’ We might need the goalie as we are playing Arsenal. Thankfully it was sorted and we went onto to win.”

Quique Sanchez Flores revealed afterwards it was the “second big mistake of my career.”

“In the press conference I confirm Pantilimon was going to play,” he said. “In the meeting room I make a mistake with the magnetic [number] of Heurelho¬†and no-one advised me that it [the number] was Gomes and not Pantilimon.”

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Sanchez Flores’ first administrative error was in 2004 when he thought he had named Daniel Kome in the Getafe side to face Numancia. However, a communication error meant Kome, the Cameroon midfielder, was not aware he was in the squad and was not at the stadium when the team arrived. A member of Sanchez Flores’ staff called Kome, checked on what he had eaten and how he had spent the previous evening.

Satisfied with the answers, Kome was whisked to the stadium, started and scored the winner in the match between the two newly-promoted sides.