Javi Gracia has called for his players to be more demanding in the upcoming season and has spoken about the importance of Watford retaining key players.

The Hornets are currently in Austria on a pre-season training camp, with friendlies against Ajax and Bayer Leverkusen coming later in the week, games Gracia believes will help provide his side with a stern test.

Speaking to the club website, the head coach was clear about his desire for Watford to be prepared to achieve more.

“We always want to improve,” he said.

“I think it’s something that lives with us and is inside us. We all want to improve, the players and the technical staff. The club is the same.

"The objective is to be more demanding than last season and although other clubs are stronger with new players, I think we are lucky to keep players we had last season and this is our strength. We now have to work hard, to be well prepared and after we will see.

“They are two teams [Ajax and Leverkusen] that were training more time than us but it will be a good challenge.

“They are two good teams but in this moment I am not worried about the results of these games. I prefer to compete against two of the best teams in Europe.”

Gracia described the Hornets as his "second family" and said he was pleased to be back working with them team again.

With few changes being made by Watford in the transfer window so far, the head coach is hoping that consistency can help his side focus on the same goals.

“I tried to enjoy the break by spending time with my family and now I am back with my second family,” said Gracia.

“It’s nice to be back and see all the players again and all the people around the team. We are looking forward to the new season.

“Most of the players were with us last season and then they know perfectly what we want, the way we work. It’s always good to remind them how important it is to work and be ready. All the players have already done very good work and now we have more weeks to prepare.”