AFTER mainly watching from the stands this season, Joel Ekstrand was understandably pleased to get his first start against Millwall and says he’s been waiting for the opportunity.
The Swedish defender formed part of a three-man defence alongside Lloyd Doyley and Tommie Hoban.
Speaking after the 0-0 draw at Vicarage Road, he explained how he wanted to make a good impression.
“I was happy to get my first full game. I’ve been waiting for it, I’ve been slightly unlucky with injuries but now I’m feeling fit.
“There came an opportunity when Fitz got injured and I was ready to play the game and I’m just sad that we couldn’t get the three points we wanted.
“We had things pretty much under control. Millwall had two big strong strikers and pushed up. I think we handled them pretty well, sometimes they had a few half-chances, but that’s football and it always happens.
“I thought we were going to score in the last couple of minutes. We played pretty well from time to time but then in the last third we couldn’t find a good way to hurt Millwall.”
Although he would have preferred more game-time so far this campaign, the 23-year-old said he has tried to make the most of taking in games from the sidelines.
“It has been helpful to watch – you always learn when you watch – I’ve been working and looking on at the games.
“Football is physical and fast, I’ve been trying to take the information in and I think I was ready and I tried to do my best.”
Ekstrand did well against former Hornet Darius Henderson and said he was prepared for the physical side of the game in England.
“I have no problem with the physical side of things,” he admitted.
“I prefer to play more football – sometimes you meet physical teams and I have no problem with it. I’ve grown up in Sweden so that is no problem to me.”
Despite being a new back three for the Hornets, Ekstrand added that communication was the key alongside youngster Hoban and the experienced Doyley.
“We know each other; I have been here a few months now and we know each other pretty well, especially the defenders,” he added.
“You learn and help each other – we spoke all the time and helped each other throughout the game.”