Quique Sanchez Flores says Watford have opened contract talks with defender Joel Ekstrand but is in no hurry to rush the Swede back to action this season.

The 26-year-old centre-back is out of contract at the end of June. He hasn’t played for the first team since rupturing his knee ligaments against Ipswich Town in March.

However, the Swedish international returned to action for the Hornets’ Under-21 side in games against Ipswich Town and Reading.

He was also involved against Boreham Wood in the Herts Senior Cup last week but was withdrawn just before half-time with injury.

Flores confirmed last month he would like to keep the former Udinese defender at Vicarage Road beyond his current deal.

Asked this morning if talks were underway yet, Flores said: “Yes, we’re talking about that.

“Ekstrand could be a very interesting central defender for the future.

"He has experience and plays football very well. In an organised team like our defensive line I think he has the chance to be a very good player.

“I think the club is working on this side (his contract).”

In line with the Premier League squad rules the Hornets are currently at their 17-man limit for foreign players, meaning someone would have to give way in order for Ekstrand to be registered.

But Flores is unsure whether he will register the defender for the second half of the season.

"I’m not completely sure [if he will be registered] because he is recovering and after this injury in the knee there are problems with the muscles," explained Flores.

"(Tommie) Hoban is nearer than Ekstrand. Hopefully he can play some matches in the last part of the season but at the moment we aren’t in a hurry.

"We won't rush and we're waiting for next season."