An upset Javi Gracia cannot believe Jose Holebas will miss the FA Cup final for the incident with Michail Antonio that saw the left-back sent off early in the second half of Watford’s 4-1 defeat to West Ham United and confirmed the Hornets will appeal the decision.

The defender was dismissed after linesman Dan Cook flagged when Holebas put his hand on the shoulder of the Hammers forward, who was through on goal and went to ground. Referee Chris Kavanagh had initially looked set to let the incident go without punishment until Cook intervened, with replays showing Antonio was not pulled back.

In a cruel irony if the appeal is unsuccessful, Holebas will become the second Watford left-back to miss a cup final through suspension after Wilf Rostron was ruled out of the 1984 showpiece against Everton following his dismissal against against Luton Town.

Gracia said: “I kept the same attitude all the season and I don’t want to change for the last one of being respectful with refereeing decisions and in this moment I prefer not to say what I’m thinking about that, only to say in my opinion I can’t believe one player can miss the final for that contact. Maybe it’s a light foul, soft foul, but I can’t agree with that decision.”

Having said “for sure” the club would appeal against the red card, the head coach continued: “That contact with one player like Antonio is a foul then there were a lot of fouls in the game.

"It was a similar action with Troy with (Lucas) Torreira [Troy Deeney’s sending off against Arsenal], in the next games there was the same situations and it wasn’t a foul, it wasn’t a yellow card, it wasn’t for sure a red card.”

Gracia said he wasn’t thinking about the prospect of his left-back missing Saturday's final, but added: “It’s difficult to accept knowing you have an important game the next week. In my opinion it’s not so important to be 11th, 10th, ninth.

“It’s obvious we would prefer to be as high as possible, but we have to know how we can improve our play to compete better in the next game, the final, because the last games we didn’t keep the same level as before.”

The red card came at a significant time because the Hornets had just got back into the game through Gerard Deulofeu after the Hammers had capitalised on some poor defending to take a two-goal lead into the break through Mark Noble and Manuel Lanzini.

Reflecting on the game, Gracia said: “I was happy with my players during the first 15 minutes where we created good chances to score. We didn’t take them and after we conceded two goals defending worse than we’ve done before. We score in the second [half] and the moment when we thought it was possible it was the moment of the red card.”

Deulofeu was taken off shortly before the hour and Gracia explained: “I think it’s a little problem. He had similar problems during the week and I think he will be ready for [the final]