Craig Cathcart says Watford are ready to make up for lost time in the Premier League following their “unlucky” relegation last summer.
The Hornets concluded their Sky Bet Championship campaign with a 2-0 win over Swansea on Saturday in a match where the Northern Irish centre-back captained the XI.
Watford have bounced back at the first time of asking, sealing promotion last month with a 1-0 victory over Millwall and finishing second behind champions Norwich, who will also be back in the top flight following relegation last term.
Cathcart said: “We need to start really well, I think that is a key thing. We had a difficult start last season and it was hard to claw it back after.
“We managed to pick up under Nigel (Pearson) and we were unlucky in the end to go down, but definitely the key is to get off to a good start.”
Defender Cathcart admitted Watford feel like they have a point to prove again next term now they are back in the Premier League.
Before sport was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic last March, the Hornets had looked set to stay up, but a poor run once football resumed saw Pearson sacked and they went down after a final-day loss at Arsenal.
“I think we have a point to prove,” Cathcart added. “It was a strange one, the last Premier League season, in the way it just stopped. I think we would have probably stayed up if it had been a normal season, but it wasn’t to be.
“This season there was a massive job on to try and bounce straight back and we’ve managed to do it.
“It wasn’t easy. You see how many teams come down from the Premier League who get stuck and sometimes get relegated again, it’s happened quite a lot. To bounce back straight away is a big credit to everyone at the club.”
Cathcart recently made his 400th appearance for the Hornets, but Saturday was only his 20th start of the campaign due to injuries.
The arrival of head coach Xisco Munoz has been hailed as crucial to Watford’s Premier League return after he won 18 of his 27 matches in charge following his December appointment in place of Vladimir Ivic.
“Since the manager come in, we’ve picked up a lot of wins and got ourselves into second position, so overall it’s a really positive season and we can look forward to being back in the Premier League,” Cathcart said.
“We will enjoy the promotion and I’m sure the club will make signings for next season over the summer.
“For now we will enjoy it, we’re back in the Premier League, we know it will be really tough but we are ready for the challenge.”