Ollie for England!!
It is not all that long ago that Aston Villa fans were clamouring for the inclusion of Jack Grealish in Gareth Southgate’s international squads, increasingly incensed by every baffling omission. This week Gareth announced his latest selection with Tyrone Mings retaining his place, Grealish’ lack of inclusion solely due to injury and a debut international call up for a certain Ollie Watkins. How the picture has altered dramatically, it is improbable but not inconceivable that come the Euros the England squad has a quartet of Villans in the form of Mings, Konsa (surely not far away), Watkins, and of course Grealish, that’s without discussing the form of Matt Targett and Matty Cash.
For the time being let’s focus on and celebrate the latest in a long line of the claret and blue to pull on the Three Lions shirt. Ollie Watkins has by any measure had a terrific top flight debut season and we are still eleven games from its conclusion. Here are the statistics:
- 10 goals and 3 assists in 27 Premier League appearances (12 goals and 3 assists in 30 appearances in all competitions).
- 2,430 Premier League minutes, or put more simply, every single second for Villa.
- Who Scored.Com average rating of 7.23 with 4 Man of the Match performances.- https://www.whoscored.com/Players/148503/Show/Ollie-Watkins
Watkins became the marquee signing of a successful transfer window in B6, with NSWE shelling out a club record £28 million rising to £33 million to secure the signature of the marksman who bagged 26 goals and the Championship Golden Boot and Player of the Year awards. It is fair to say that a price tag and preceding season like that bring a certain amount of pressure, a pressure Watkins has dealt with admirably. Dean Smith has a huge amount of faith in a man he worked with successfully at Brentford and it has been easy to see why.
One of the most pleasing aspects of Watkins success has been that he brings far more than just goals, in fact his goal contributions have come in fits and starts, although VAR and the woodwork have played their part in denying him an even more impressive set of stats this term. Injuries permitting Watkins is on course to play every single minute of Villa’s second season back at the top table, an even more impressive accomplishment when you consider his work rate. Watkins is a constant nuisance, pressing defenders, not allowing them the space to feel comfortable and always running the channels. It is this selfless team play and work ethic that has made him a firm favourite of Dean Smith and these are qualities we know appeal to the current England boss.
Having been EFL Young Player of the Year in 2017 and Championship Player of the Year last term Watkins upwards trajectory continues. Whilst it is likely he will eventually miss out on the final squad for the upcoming European Championships given the abundance of competition, this surely will not be the last we see of Watkins at international level.
At 25 there is a very bright future ahead for a man Villans have already taken to their hearts, England fans may soon be doing the same.
Up the Villa!
You can find Liam Mucklow on Twitter
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