England 1-0 Australia: Can Ollie Watkins be Harry Kane’s understudy?

13 October 2023 0 By Total Football News

Ollie Watkins celebrates his goal against AustraliaOllie Watkins has scored two hat-tricks this season

Ollie Watkins was on the scoresheet again, 563 days after his last England appearance and goal.

The in-form Aston Villa striker made the most of his long-awaited opportunity to impress Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate once again with the winner in Friday’s otherwise low-key friendly with Australia.

“It has been a long time coming,” Watkins told Channel 4.

“I have been waiting a long time for the next call-up. I was looking forward to it and I wasn’t going to let this opportunity slip.

“I knew I wasn’t going to come off this pitch without the goal, that was in my mind.”

Has Watkins now jumped to the front of the queue to be Harry Kane’s understudy in the striker role?

Making his mark

Harry Kane applauds the fans at Wembley on FridayHarry Kane was an unused substitute for England against Australia

As England captain and with a record 59 goals for his country, Kane’s place in Southgate’s team is never in doubt.

But what is perhaps less obvious is who replaces the Bayern Munich striker if he is injured.

Watkins’ return to the England team was reward for his excellent form at Aston Villa so far this season.

Under Unai Emery, Watkins has hit seven goals in all competitions – including two hat-tricks – and looked sharp and hungry throughout his return to international football.

His goal was his third in eight games for the Three Lions.

Southgate’s other options include Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford, Newcastle’s Callum Wilson, Ivan Toney of Brentford and Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah.

With 55 caps, Rashford is the most experienced of Southgate’s options and he has scored 16 goals for England, but is often more effective out wide.

Wilson, meanwhile, has nine caps for England and has scored two goals, while Toney and Nketiah have just one cap each, the latter making debut on Friday.

“Watkins has everything to put pressure on Kane,” former Australia and Leeds forward Harry Kewell said on Channel 4.

“He is powerful, strong and quick, and the one thing defenders are scared of is speed.”

“I’d say he’s probably playing as well as I’ve ever seen him,” ex-England and Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy said.

“He looks fit, strong and confident. He’s got real intent in his play. He’s good with the ball now and he’s always been good at running in behind.

“He’s relentless as well, he just doesn’t stop.”