The Puzzling Media Conversation Around Ollie Watkins and England

Ollie Watkins’ England Race

As the Premier League season edges towards its finish, the media is already discussing which players will be on the plane to Germany this summer as part of Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2024 squad. As far as out-and-out strikers go, there’s always been a question of who will join Harry Kane. According to the media, Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins finds himself in a straight-up race against the likes of Dominic Solanke and Ivan Toney to join the squad.

Watkins, 28, has seen his fortunes dramatically improve since Unai Emery took over as Aston Villa manager in October 2022. The forward himself has repeatedly stated that the Spaniard has asked him to focus on goalscoring and being in the right place at the right time, instead of drifting out to wider positions during the build-up play. And it’s paid dividends since, with Watkins now undoubtedly in the form of his life in England’s top flight.

While it was always likely that Watkins would make the final squad to compete over in Germany with the Three Lions, a tournament many betting on Euro 2024 expect England to win, the media are still raising their doubts.

Despite Watkins being one of the leading contenders to win PFA Player of the Year, some BBC pundits are picking Ivan Toney over him, a player who has served an eight-month ban for breach of the FA’s Betting Rules and that has only four goals to his name this season.

Ex-Brighton striker Glenn Murray, working as a pundit on the BBC, seemingly avoided the stats of the season to pick Toney ahead of both Watkins and Solanke because of his coolness from the penalty spot (ironically both Watkins and Solange scored penalties this week).

Watkins’ Stats Don’t Lie

The stats though completely back-up the Villa striker’s claim to be Kane’s main understudy.

In the Premier League alone, Watkins is in double figures for goals (19) and assists (10), numbers you’d expect him to improve on before the season’s out, especially with Villa chasing a top-four finish and Champions League football next term.

Premier League This SeasonWatkinsSolankeToney
Expected goals15.417.34.7
Minutes per goal147168272
Shot conversion rate20%18%10%

What Southgate will be relying on is having strikers who he can call on from the bench, who can not only make an impact but potentially make an impact against some of Europe’s stoutest defences. Watkins is the only English striker behind Harry Kane that is playing European football this season, which obviously helps prepare for the Euros.

As proven, Ollie Watkins is a very capable goal-getter and with an added aggression to his game, as seen in the recent games assisting against Bournemouth and his impressive goal against Arsenal. Even as an impact sub, he also has the pace and energy to unsettle defences late in games, and if Kane were to get injured, Southgate knows he’s got a striker who can do the business for him.

If Villa qualify for the Champions’ League, they can be also confident that Watkin’s head won’t be turned in what is a notable shop window for the major clubs, if he does have a successful Euro 2024 campaign.

So, what could be England’s and Southgate’s gain could also prove to be Watkins’ and Villa’s into next season, where they will undoubtedly be aiming to improve once again while remaining one of the top four outfits in English football.

As MOMS has frequently stated on the My Old Man Said podcast, Watkins was probably going to need to hit the 20-goal mark to help Villa into the Champions’ League, but this is surely only the beginning for both a striker and a club that is going places under the guidance of Emery, a serial winner and one of the leading managers in world football across the last decade or so.


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  1. As a Bournemouth fan, I see Ollie Watkins already on the plane. With the extended squads, I think the discussion is between Solanke and Toney for the remaining spot, which will probably go to Toney, but again the stats would put to Solanke being the better option. If Watkins is left behind for someone like Rashford, it would be a travesty, but then when have we not had a bit of selection drama prior to a tournament!


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