Watkins aiming to stake claim for permanent England role after maiden call-up

The Villa star acknowledges that it will be tough to unseat first-choice forward Harry Kane but he is delighted to be part of the national team

New England call-up Ollie Watkins wants to stake a regular claim to a place in the Three Lions squad as he enjoys his first taste of international football. 

The Aston Villa striker, 25, was selected by Gareth Southgate for England’s opening World Cup qualifiers in March. 

It is a reward for the fine season Watkins has had in the Premier League as he continues to impress in attack for the Birmingham side. 

What was said? 

Harry Kane has long been England’s automatic choice at centre-forward, and Watkins hopes to put pressure on the Tottenham star in Southgate’s strongest first XI, even if he recognises the scale of the challenge. 

“Impossible to replace Kane? Tough question. I can’t speak more highly of him,” he told reporters. “Everyone knows what he is capable of and there are a lot of talented English strikers as well, and attacking players.

“It is always hard to play for England for a start, let alone take a position but I’m trying to be the best player I can be. If I get my opportunity, I’ll try to perform well, make an impact on the team and see where we can go from there.”

When asked if an England call was on his mind, Watkins added: “No, not really. I was just focusing on club form. England are blessed with so many attacking players. It’s the elite, another level, so I didn’t put myself in that category. I hoped to be in the England squad one day but didn’t think it would come so soon.”

Watkins’ attacking idol

While he is gearing up to represent the Three Lions, it is a France star from yesteryear who remains Watkins’ example to follow. 

“Thierry Henry is the best striker to ever play in the Premier League in my eyes,” the Villa man, who with 10 goals is his club’s top scorer in the 2020-21 Premier League campaign, said.

“Some may disagree but he had everything, could dribble, was quick, he could score with both feet and create. He was someone I looked up to when I was supporting Arsenal from young. I’m definitely a long, long way from being like Thierry.”

Further reading 

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