Watford defender Joel Ekstrand is unlikely to play again this year after damaging the cruciate ligament in his left knee.

The 26-year-old suffered the injury during the Hornets’ 1-0 defeat to Ipswich Town on Saturday when attempting a challenge on Tractor Boys full-back Tyrone Mings.

Ekstrand, who is currently on crutches and is wearing a protective leg brace, is set to undergo surgery in the next two weeks and the Golden Boys’ head of medical Richard Collinge says the Swedish international faces a prolonged spell on the sidelines.

“We saw a consultant on Monday evening in London and are planning to fly Joel out for surgery in Barcelona either next week or the week after,” he said yesterday (Thursday).

“A cruciate ligament repair is a lengthy process to recover from. We have to do a lot to make sure Joel is ready and his knee is nice and strong when he returns so he is not susceptible to further injury.

“We have a nine month time-frame but it could take up to a year depending on how the recovery goes.”

Collinge continued: “It is testament to Joel’s personality that he has already started some work in the gym because what we can do now is preparatory work for the post-op period.

“He is a motivated, disciplined and a diligent guy and he will have no problems whatsoever. We will structure his rehabilitation to make sure he gets back on the pitch as soon as possible.

“He is a great guy though, and his frame of mind will help him in his recovery.”

Ekstrand joins Almen Abdi in the treatment room. The Swiss maestro has missed Watford’s last two matches with a hamstring injury he picked up during the Hornets’ victory against Reading on March 14.

Collinge says the midfielder’s recovery is going well and believes the 28-year-old could be fit for the trip to Derby County on Easter Friday.

“Almen worked with me yesterday (Wednesday) and we were out on the pitches for the first time,” he explained.

“He was running well and there was no reaction to what we were doing. Today he was in the gym doing strength work on the hamstring and will again be out on the pitch tomorrow.

“He won’t get much of a break at the weekend because he will be working with us to ensure he will be close to fitness for the Easter weekend.”

Fernando Forestieri also missed Watford’s defeat to Ipswich on Saturday after suffering an ankle knock in training on Friday afternoon.

Collinge says the diminutive forward has trained this week and is currently fit for selection for the Easter weekend games at Derby County and at home to Middlesbrough.

He also gave an update on midfielder Sean Murray, who underwent surgery on a knee ligament injury in January.

“Sean is doing really well,” Collinge said. “He is working hard in the gym and hopefully in the next two to three weeks he will be out on the pitch doing some straight line running.

“He is doing double sessions and is in almost every day. We are very pleased with his progress.”