Joel Ekstrand stresses he wants to stay at Watford beyond this season but the defender says the club have yet to officially offer him a new contract despite his current deal expiring in the summer.

The 27-year-old is inching closer to a return to action having spent the last eleven months recovering from a serious knee ligament injury.

Ekstrand hasn’t played 90 minutes for Watford since March 17, 2015, but he is hopeful of featuring for the Hornets before the season ends.

The Sweden international was registered in the club’s revised Premier League squad list earlier this month and his attitude has often been praised by Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores.

However, his future remains unclear. The three-year deal Ekstrand signed when he joined the club permanently in 2013 from Udinese expires this summer.

Should he and Watford be unable to come to an agreement he will be free to leave come the end of the campaign.

“We have spoken but there has been nothing official so far,” Ekstrand told the Watford Observer last week.

“I have been here for almost four years. I think everyone knows, from the club to the fans, that I love it here.

“On the pitch and off the pitch it has been great. Reaching the Premier League was always the target and I would like to stay and achieve a dream of playing Premier League.

“I still think I have a lot to give Watford. So of course I want to stay but in football you never know.”

Flores spoke briefly against Ekstrand’s future prior to the Hornets’ game against Bournemouth. 

“Ekstrand is back training with us,” the Spaniard said last Thursday. “He is a very good player and is the kind of player I like.

"But it (his future) doesn’t depend on me. He finishes his contract in the summer. So it is a decision for the club and the player.”