Picture by Sean Hinks

Joel Ekstrand “positive” despite injury setback

Joel Ekstrand will be assessed by the club’s medical team this morning to find out the extent of the hamstring injury he picked up against Boreham Wood last night.

Playing his third comeback match since a serious knee injury, Ekstrand caused serious alarm among those connected with Watford at Meadow Park when he went down five minutes before half time. He was attended to by Rob Sharps, the academy physio, and after he got to his feet, he limped off unaided down the tunnel, clutching his right leg and with disappointment etched on his face. Mike Spanou, the therapist who worked so hard to get him back to full fitness, headed straight into the changing room to check on the defender.

Picture by Sean Hinks
Picture by Sean Hinks

The fear Ekstrand had damaged the same knee that required reconstructive surgery last year was quickly allayed, and it was confirmed after the game he had injured his hamstring. Richard Collinge, the head of medical, will most likely MRI scan the affected area to ascertain whether the hamstring injury is a grade one, two or three injury.

“He’s OK, he’s positive,” Sean Murray told us after the 1-0 defeat. “He’s come back from his [knee] injury and this will just be a minor setback. I’m sure he’ll come back stronger.”

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Ekstrand was scheduled to play as many as 75 minutes against the National League opponents in the Herts Senior Cup quarter-final last night, building on the 45 he picked up against Brentford and then the hour he was given against Reading last week. The injury was a blow to the 26-year-old who is hopeful of winning a place in the revised 25-man Premier League squad and earning a new contract.

“We are speaking with the sporting director and the owner about extending the contract of this player,” Quique Sanchez Flores said earlier this month. “I am happy he’s coming back because he is the kind of player I like. He is a serious professional who is very focused. He is technically good, too. He is a very good player.”

Picture via @watfordfc
Picture via @watfordfc

Watched last night by his former Hornets’ teammate Fitz Hall, Ekstrand was coping well with his biggest physical test since returning from injury and won a foot race and then a battle of strength with George Beattie in the corner early on. Ekstrand was replaced by Alfie Young while Tommie Hoban, who formed a first-half centre-back partnership with the Swede that would be the envy of some Championship clubs, came off as a precaution at the break as he steps up his own return from injury. He built on the 30 minutes he was afforded against Reading with a 45-minute cameo here.