Ollie Watkins named in Gareth Southgate’s England squad

England's Ollie Watkins during the international friendly match at Wembley Stadium, London.
England's Ollie Watkins during the international friendly match at Wembley Stadium, London. -Credit:PA

Exeter City Academy graduate Ollie Watkins is all but certain to be a part of Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the European Championships this summer after being named in a 33-man training squad.

The 28-year-old, who hails from Newton Abbot, has had an outstanding season at club level, helping Aston Villa finish fourth in the Premier League and qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Watkins, who has 11 England caps and scored three times for his country, has scored 19 goals and has 13 assists in the Premier League this season, which saw him finish fourth in the race for the golden boot behind Manchester City’s Erling Haaland (27 goals), Cole Palmer of Chelsea (22) and Newcastle United’s Swedish international Alexander Isak.

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However, while it was joy for Watkins, it was despair for Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford, who was not selected by Southgate, or vice captain Jordan Henderson, who also misses out.

With 26 days to go until their group opener against Serbia, the national team boss has named a 33-strong training squad that has to be cut to a maximum of 26 players by June 7.

Southgate said: “These are difficult calls, you are talking about players who are very good players who have been an important part of what we have done. With Marcus, I feel players in the same area of the pitch have had better seasons, it’s as simple as that.

“Hendo has given himself every chance, the determining factor is the injury he picked up in the last camp, he missed five weeks and he just hasn’t been able to get to the intensity in the games since then. He is a fantastic professional and it was a difficult call to make.”