Watford boss Ranieri reveals reason behind no-show Dennis in FA Cup thumping at Leicester City

The Nigerian international was not involved at all as the Golden Boys were embarrassed out of the world’s oldest cup competition by the Foxes

Watford manager Claudio Ranieri has opened up on why he decided to leave Nigerian forward Emmanuel Dennis out of the Hornets squad that lost 4-1 to Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.

Dennis has been the Golden Boys’ best player since joining in the summer, with the 24-year-old clinching his third Watford player of the month award a few days ago.

Watford recognized the impact Dennis has made in such a short time at the club and risked their relationship with Nigeria by blocking the forward from honouring his country’s invitation to be a part of the Super Eagles at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

With the Hornets without a win or draw since their 4-1 humbling of Manchester United in November, Dennis is one player Watford cannot do without during a crucial January.

But the former Club Brugge winger was missing in action as an Ademola Lookman-inspired Leicester City knocked the Hornets out of the FA Cup.

Ranieri, who won the Spanish and Italian Cups with Valencia and Fiorentina, has confessed that he omitted Dennis from the Cup clash because he prioritises Premier League survival over a deep run in the FA Cup.

“For me it was good because, first of all, I have no injured players and that is very important,” the 70-year-old told the club’s official website.

“I gave a rest to [Emmanuel] Dennis, [Joshua] King and the others, which for me was important.

“My focus is now only on the next three matches [against Newcastle, Burnley and Norwich]. Now we have to be solid, compact and try to do our best, as we do every match.”

Dennis has eight goals and five assists in 17 league games for Watford, and he could be vital for the Hornets as they look to snap out of a seven-game losing streak when they make the trip to Newcastle on January 15.

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