Watford boss Nigel Pearson has admitted that the FA Cup is not the priority for his side after a much-changed Hornets side was pegged back by Tranmere on Saturday.
Pearson made nine changes to his side for the third round clash at Vicarage Road and it looked as if the hosts were not affected by their lack of experience in the first half.
Three goals gave them a commanding lead heading into the break but League One Tranmere fought back in the second period, a penalty deep into the half levelling the scores.
Speaking after the match, Pearson said: “The Premier League is our priority and I make no apologies for that.
“It was never my intention to do anything other than protect the squad, and look after what we need to do for the Premier League programme.
“I can’t sit here and try to give you a feeling that everything is equal in terms of how we look at competitions. Unfortunately for us, the FA Cup is not the priority.
“If we were in a more comfortable situation and had more players available it would be different, but we don’t because we have a lengthy injury list.
“We can’t afford as a football club to put ourselves in a situation where we go into the league with even fewer players available. I have got to make decisions based on what is right for our season. It is as simple as that.”
Watford sit 19th in the Premier League table, having claimed only three wins from 21 games so far this season.
The Hornets have enjoyed a resurgence under Pearson, however, and are two points adrift of safety heading into next weekend’s crunch clash with 18th-placed Bournemouth.