Aston Villa boss Dean Smith has been speaking ahead of this weekend’s clash with Southampton and has highlighted Ollie Watkins as someone he particularly enjoys working with.
Watkins signed for Villa in the summer from Brentford, completing a move which could be worth around £33m to the Bees when all is said and done.
The pacey forward has been key in Villa’s fine start, too, scoring a hat-trick against Liverpool and creating space with his running in behind for the likes of Jack Grealish and Ross Barkley.
And Smith has explained that Watkins wants to go one further, admitting the striker has tasked Smith with helping him break into the England set-up.
“He just wants to get better but he always tests you as a coach, asking you what he can do to improve,” Smith told Talksport.
“One of his questions when I met up with him was: How can you get me in the England squad? That’s his ambition and I love it when people have got them targets and the hunger to get there. Hopefully he’ll get there – it certainly won’t be for the lack of trying.”
Watkins, 24, has cemented the striking position with Villa already and having seen the likes of Grealish and Tyrone Mings break into Gareth Southgate’s team, will be confident of an opportunity if his form continues.
The sky is the limit, Watkins has made a huge difference – TBR View
There’s no doubting the impact Watkins has had on this Villa team. He’s a selfless striker whose running and work-rate allows others to play better.
Grealish and Barkley are benefitting massively, while he’s causing defences so many headaches.
He seems to be so fit, too. Rather than tiring in games, he seems to grow into them. That’s something that should serve him well and like Dominic Calvert-Lewin has shown, hard work can pay off eventually in terms of the England squad.