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The Hornets manager is confident that the club will be challenging for promotion again next season after their heartbreaking play-off final defeat to Crystal Palace

Watford manager Gianfranco Zola has backed his side to be even stronger next season, despite the Hornets' disappointing play-off defeat against Crystal Palace.

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The Hertfordshire club were aiming to return to the Premier League after a six-year spell in the Championship, but were denied by an extra-time penalty scored by former Watford player Kevin Phillips.

Zola was magnanimous in defeat, praising the performance of Ian Holloway's side, and believes his team are only going to get better next season as they target promotion to the Premier League once more.

"It is tough for me and for everyone connected to Watford, It wasn't our best game but to lose in extra time to a penalty is hard to take,” Zola told Sky Sports.

"To be fair [Crystal Palace] played well and probably in the 90 minutes deserved more than us so congratulations to them. They did play very well, they had a player like [Wilfried] Zaha who was on a different level and made the difference.

"When you play a game like this, it will be very tight. The difference can be made by individual qualities and today was the case. We're going to be stronger next year, that's for sure. This is the start for us.

"Everything we achieved this season, to be here playing was a big bonus for us, it was unexpected but we did it because it was deserved it.

"We are determined to be stronger next year. We will be stronger next year."

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