herald

Sunday 26 May 2019

Gracia wants Hornets to sting Cardiff

Javi Gracia
Javi Gracia

Watford manager Javi Gracia has challenged his players to be as hungry for points as relegation-battlers Cardiff in their Premier League clash tonight.

The Hornets are sitting comfortably in eighth place, just two points behind Wolves, and have secured a place in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

Cardiff, meanwhile, are scrapping to drag themselves clear of the relegation dogfight, with successive victories having moved them up to 17th.

Neil Warnock's men, though, are just a point above the drop zone and could well find themselves back in the bottom three should results go against them this weekend.

Gracia does not want to see any complacency from his team when they head to Wales on the back of a run of just one defeat in their last 10 matches in all competitions.

"We are looking forward to the game and making a big effort. Cardiff need the points and I must convince my players we need them as well. We have to show it," the Watford manager said.

"I know how difficult it will be for us to win on Friday.

"It will be a demanding game as they are in their best moment of the season after winning two games (in a row). Playing there will be difficult.

"They have changed something, with some players, some players in other positions.

Balance

"They have another balance and now they are competing better."

Watford expect to have forward Roberto Pereyra available following a calf problem, which saw him miss the past three games.

Friday will be the first home match for Cardiff since the body of Emiliano Sala was recovered from the English Channel and returned to his native Argentina for a funeral.

Bluebirds manager Warnock was among the representatives of the Welsh club to attend the service for Sala.

The 28-year-old was killed when the private plane bringing him to Cardiff crashed into the English Channel on January 21, just two days after his record move to the Premier League side. Lincolnshire pilot David Ibbotson remains missing, presumed dead.

Tributes have been paid across football, and Gracia says Cardiff will have Watford's support if they need it.

"We like to be respectful with the team, with Cardiff and with the families because, for them, it's a difficult moment," Gracia said at a press conference reported by the club.

"We are going to a game and we will come back to our lives, so the most difficult thing is clearly for the family.

"I want us to show our respect and that's all we can do in this difficult moment. If they need our support, they know they will have it."

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