Joel Ekstrand says the Championship table proves Watford are the strongest side in the play-offs and believes it has been a “wonderful season” for the Hornets despite the club missing out on automatic promotion.

A 2-1 defeat to Leeds United on Saturday meant Watford had to settle for third place and spot in the play-offs - where they will take on Leicester City.

Speaking on Saturday, Ekstrand admitted missing out on automatic promotion was a “horrible feeling” but stressed the players must remain positive about their “second chance” to achieve promotion.

He added: “We are third and we were close to second place. We are now in the play-offs and it has been a wonderful season so far. What we have to do is to be positive now. We need to believe we can do it and I know we can.”

The 24-year-old centre-back, who has made 33 appearances for Watford this season, continued: “I feel we are the strongest team in the play-offs. The league table can prove that. We just need to strongly believe that we can do it.

“What we have to do is to get our confidence back and try to win on Thursday. We just have to look at it as a second chance. We just have to think positively.”