Javi Gracia denies asking Watford players to kick Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha
Last Updated: 14/03/19 7:10pm
Watford head coach Javi Gracia has denied his team used dirty tactics on Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha when the teams met in the Premier League last August.
Watford beat Palace 2-1 and after the game, captain Troy Deeney said: "You take it in turns kicking him. I know no one wants to hear that, but you go: 'You hit him this time, you hit him the next time'. You don't have the same player tackle him because you know you're going to get booked."
But as the sides prepare to meet in an FA Cup quarter-final at Vicarage Road on Saturday, Gracia insisted the instruction to kick Zaha did not come from him.
"I don't use that tactic, I don't use that tactic. I don't use it," Gracia said when asked about Deeney's comments.
"When we prepare (for) the games, we always are thinking about playing well and trying to beat the other team.
"But not thinking only about one player because I think it's a collective and we have to be ready to compete this way and not only thinking about Zaha or other players."
Gracia faces a potential selection headache in goal with Heurelho Gomes in contention to start after keeping a clean sheet in each of his three FA Cup appearances this season.
The 38-year-old former Tottenham goalkeeper plans to retire in the summer and could be set for a final Vicarage Road appearance if selected for the FA Cup tie ahead of regular No 1 Ben Foster.
"Everyone knows how important Heurelho Gomes is for me and the club. He is ready, like the rest of the players. He is a good option, but I will decide," Gracia said.
"I have three good goalkeepers. Ben Foster is very good, Heurelho is very good and Pontus Dahlberg is as well. In different moments they are all very, very good."
Gracia added: "Heurelho is a very good player, a very good person and I'm sure he will be important if he is playing or not."