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Gracia: Watford will not be affected by Silva's return

Gracia: Watford will not be affected by Silva's return
© Reuters
Everton boss Marco Silva returns to Vicarage Road for the first time since being sacked by Watford.

Watford boss Javi Gracia has stressed Marco Silva’s return to Vicarage Road this weekend will not be a distraction for the Hornets.

Silva’s Everton are at Watford on Saturday as the Portuguese faces his former employers away for the first time since they sacked him last season.

Watford captain Troy Deeney appears to have stoked things up in advance, reportedly telling a fans’ forum to leave Silva alone while he and his team-mates “kick the s***” out of Everton’s players instead.

But Gracia said on Thursday at a pre-match press conference reported on Watford’s official website: “It is nothing different than other games.

“We are concentrated on the game, I am concentrated on the game and when we prepare the games we are not thinking abut the coaches.

“We are thinking about the shapes, the players, how we can defend, how we can attack. Not about the coaches.”

He added: “I think they (his players) have the motivation in all the games, not in this (one) especially.

“Always we want to win three points and in the next game we will try to do it as best as possible, but as we usually do.”

Watford axed Silva, who they had appointed as boss the previous summer, in January last year having won once in 11 games.

He was a target for Everton after their sacking of Ronald Koeman in October 2017, and when Watford dismissed Silva they said the “unwarranted approach” the Toffees had made for him was the “catalyst” for their decision.

Silva then replaced Koeman’s successor Sam Allardyce at Goodison Park in May.

Watford made an official complaint to the Premier League and with it alleged Everton had made an “illegal” approach, and in September it was understood the league had asked a law firm to launch an inquiry into the matter.

Everton hosted Watford three months later and visiting fans waved toy snakes at Silva during the 2-2 draw.

When asked what sort of reception he thought Silva would get from Watford supporters on Saturday, Gracia said: “I don’t know. I think there will be different opinions and all of them are respectable. I don’t know.

“I expect the supporters back us as they usually do. It is the best thing for us, to feel the support we feel all the games, and I think this game, it will be not different.”

Gracia – whose men are eighth, a point better off than ninth-placed Everton – also said he thinks midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure will be available for the match after missing the last four due to a knee problem.

There could also be a return to action for Kiko Femenia, who has been nursing a hamstring issue.

Roberto Pereyra (calf), Isaac Success (hamstring) and Sebastian Prodl (knee) remain sidelined.

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