Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores says he did not start Odion Ighalo against Everton as the striker had barely trained this week because of injury.

The Nigerian international has been in prolific form during pre-season despite playing in a new role behind Troy Deeney.

So there was the feeling of surprise at Goodison Park when the 26-year-old was omitted from the starting XI.

Ighalo was named on the bench and was brought on for Jose Manuel Jurado with 16 minutes remaining and the game level at 1-1. He certainly made an impact.

In the 83rd minute Ighalo collected the ball on the edge of the area, beat John Stones, evaded Phil Jagielka and coolly slotted his shot past Tim Howard. It was an excellent goal. 

Unfortunately the Hornets were unable to see the contest out and left Merseyside with a 2-2 draw. Ighalo, however, left with his reputation enhanced.

And speaking in his post-match press conference, Flores explained why Ighalo did not start against Everton.

“He didn’t train during the week,” the Watford boss said. “He was injured but made a big effort to come here. He only trained yesterday so I wouldn’t have been sure of his performance.

“I had to think what is best for the team and we needed eleven players who would be ready to put in a high performance.

“But when I put Ighalo on the pitch I knew he would be ok. He has also been important for us during pre-season and will be important in the future for sure.”