‘He’s on the plane’ – Watkins dreaming of Euros

2 March 2024 0 By Total Football News
Ollie WatkinsOllie Watkins has overtaken his personal record of 15 Premier League goals in a season – set last campaign – with 11 games to go

Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins is dreaming of a Euro 2024 place with England after moving on to a career-best 16 Premier League goals this season – so is it already nailed on?

The 28-year-old, who has won nine caps, netted twice in the first half of Villa’s ultimately dramatic 3-2 win over Luton.

Watkins is the second top scorer in the Premier League this season, and tops the way for goals and assists combined with 26.

Nobody else is in double figures for goals and double figures for assists.

Watkins was included in Gareth Southgate’s provisional England squad for Euro 2020 but did not make the final cut, and was not involved in the 2022 World Cup.

He is waiting for his first crack at a major tournament – and it seems inevitable it will come this summer in Germany.

“If I said I wasn’t thinking about the Euros I would be lying to you,” he told BBC Sport after his double at Luton.

“I have played Premier League football for a number of years now. I missed out on the last Euros squad because it was my first season in the Premier League.

“I am scoring, I am established, so it is down to the manager if he wants to pick me.”

Former England striker Alan Shearer said on Match of the Day: “He’s on the plane. His bags are packed. He’s got his boarding pass.”

Watkins’ first against Luton was a header and his second was a confident finish after controlling Douglas Luiz’s long ball over the top.

The only English player to have scored more goals than Watkins this season in Europe’s top leagues is Harry Kane, England’s all-time record scorer, who has netted 27 times in the Bundesliga for Bayern Munich.

Former England midfielder Jamie Redknapp, watching for Sky Sports, said: “Harry Kane will be our number nine. With those numbers, only an injury will stop Ollie going. He’s been that good. He’s so well rounded.

“He’d be a great player to bring off the bench, if you want to throw on two [strikers] if you need a goal. He’s been magnificent. His all-round play has improved immeasurably.”

Watkins is only the fourth Villa player to net 16 goals in a Premier League season and the first since Christian Benteke a decade ago.

“I want to score as many goals as possible. I feel like I am doing that. I am confident and I am playing my best football,” Watkins said.

“I think the manager (Unai Emery) has a lot of faith in me. He keeps working with me.

“My game understanding has got a lot better. I am looking forward to the last stretch and the end of the season.”

Emery said: “His commitment is brilliant and the consequence is this when he works hard every day.

“He is always working for the team and then he is working to score and also hold up the ball and fighting with the centre-back.”

Ex-Newcastle striker Shearer said: “He’s having the season of his life. He’s in the form where, as a forward, you go on the pitch not hoping to score, but expecting to score.”

Among Watkins’ rivals to be Kane’s understudy are Bournemouth’s Dominic Solanke and West Ham’s Jarrod Bowen, but he has outscored the pair of them this campaign.

England play Brazil and Belgium in friendlies this month, the only games before June’s Euros warm-up games against Bosnia and Iceland.

Serbia, Denmark and Slovenia are in England’s Euro 2024 group.

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