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Quique keeps cards close over Gomes-Pantilimon FA Cup semi call

Quique Sanchez Flores said cryptically he will use “common sense” when picking his goalkeeper for Sunday’s eagerly-awaited FA Cup semi-final against Crystal Palace.

The head coach said this morning he knows his team to face the Eagles at Wembley stadium and will inform the players of the squad tomorrow after training and then announce the team at the hotel on the morning of the game. Sanchez Flores, who has never been shy of making a big call, has to decide whether to leave out his runaway player of the season or be the second manager in three years to administer FA Cup Wembley heartbreak to Costel Pantilimon.

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“The goalkeeper situation is like the right-back situation, like the central defender situation and like the striker situation,” said Sanchez Flores.

Although it isn’t. Sanchez Flores has not opted to play a cup specialist in any other position for the last three rounds and is not ‘damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t’ with any other positional decision he makes this weekend.

“Both of them want to play,” he said. “I’d like to choose 24 but I can only play 11 players. They are both playing well and the feeling I have with Pantilimon is that he is a very good professional. We will use common sense to take decisions.”

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The back four picks itself – Allan Nyom, Craig Cathcart, Miguel Britos and Nathan Ake – as do the front two, Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo. Ben Watson is nailed on to start in the deep-lying midfield position while Etienne Capoue, for all his oscillating form, has never once been left out or benched when Sanchez Flores has picked a full-strength team. That would leave Jose Manuel Jurado, Adlene Guedioura and Valon Behrami vying for two spots.

“We need to think about how we can do something with the system of Crystal Palace,” said Sanchez Flores. “It is important to think about Palace but the most important part of the match is thinking about us, our attack, our defending and how to attack Palace’s weakness.”

Remember, there are 13 pages of Watford content you won’t find online in our newspaper which is out in the shops now. It includes an interview with Adrian Mariappa on lending Troy Deeney £10,000 and an exclusive column from two-time semi-finalist Tommy Smith. It’s available in all places you’d expect to buy a paper in Watford and its surrounding areas – or you can subscribe by sending an email to jane@wdsport.co.uk

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